Volunteering is a valuable experience, both in terms of getting into Medicine and developing your own skills. Some Medical Schools prefer work experience to be healthcare-related, but some don’t have a preference.
One popular form of volunteering is working in a care home, where you might help the staff to serve food, organise games and activities, or simply spend time with the residents. You could also volunteer with a healthcare-related charity such as St John Ambulance.
In volunteering, you can develop the key skills that are needed to study Medicine, including teamwork, communication and dealing with the public. While you’re volunteering, keep a diary to reflect on what you’ve observed and learned. This will be useful when you’re writing your Personal Statement and preparing for interviews.
If you’re finding in-person volunteering opportunities hard to access in your area, there are also opportunities to volunteer remotely.
The best volunteering placements are often long-term roles which allow you to develop skills over time and show your commitment. For example, you could take on a role that involves visiting a care home every week for several months.
Long-term volunteering allows you to build a rapport with people 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.
Medical volunteering will give you an important insight into the realities and challenges of healthcare.
You’ll build relationships with people from different generations and backgrounds – and you’ll develop other interpersonal skills such as empathy, which are vital for any Doctor. There may be placement-specific skills you develop too, such as record taking or caring responsibilities.
If you’re trying to secure a volunteering placement, you could:
You can also contact care homes, charity shops and other organisations in your local area to see if they need volunteers.
As with all forms of medical work experience, reflection is the key – so make sure you note down what you’ve learned and observed as you go along. This will make it easier to review everything and pick out important points when you’re working on your application.
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