Volunteering is an invaluable experience, both in terms of getting into Medical School and developing your own skills.
A very popular form of volunteering is working in a care home with elderly patients. You could help the staff serve food, organise games with the patients, or simply spend time with some of the patients. We recommend securing one of these placements if you can.
Some Medical Schools require work experience to be healthcare-related – but many don’t. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have eased their requirements to reflect the fact that it’s impossible to get experience in a clinical setting at the moment.
Ultimately, we believe that all volunteering placements are valuable to some extent. The key thing to take from volunteering is to build the proficiencies needed to study Medicine and reflect on what you’ve learnt.
The best volunteering placements are long-standing roles that allow you to develop skills over time and display your commitment. This could look like visiting a home every week for six to 18 months, for example.
Long-term volunteering allows you to build rapport with patients you see on a regular basis. This is a very rewarding experience and one which will become much more common as you progress through your training at Medical School – and beyond.
Volunteering placements allow you to see the realities of healthcare in an often challenging setting. It also shows excellent, often ongoing, commitment.
You’ll learn how to build empathetic relationships with people from different generations and backgrounds. You’ll develop other interpersonal skills such as empathy, which are essential for a Doctor.
There may be placement-specific skills you develop too, such as record-taking or caring responsibilities.
There are a few different ways to secure a volunteer placement:
You can also contact local care homes, charity shops and other organisations to see if they need volunteers.
Whatever the volunteering role, try to extrapolate anything that you feel is relevant to your Medical School application. As always, reflection is the key – so keep a regular diary and make sure you note down what you’ve learnt or observed so it’s easier to review everything when you’re working on your application or interview prep.
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