If you’re already 16, start the application process for voluntary roles as soon as you can.
Most medical schools like to see a long-term voluntary commitment of at least six months, if not more. (Want to see what all work experience requirements are? Find out on our Medical School Work Experience Requirements page!)
While this may seem simple, it’s important to remember that you might not find a volunteering place the first time you try. Plus, your DBS check will take a couple of weeks and, on top of all that, most places require you to do an induction.
Start looking as soon as possible to ensure that by the time you apply for medicine, you have done a good amount of volunteering. Medical schools won’t accept what volunteering you are planning to do, only what you have done.
Often, hospitals have volunteer schemes and really appreciate the extra help from community volunteers.
Even if you’re simply making a patient a cup of tea or sitting and chatting to a lonely elderly patient, it’s a brilliant way for you to really experience what a hospital setting is like.
If there’s not enough information on the website on how to apply for this, ring up and find out – there are often deadlines for applications, so make sure you’re regularly checking to see when they open and close.
Some hospitals also have work experience schemes that students can apply to, keep a look out for when applications open and apply!
Talk to a tutor at your college/sixth form and explain to them what you’re applying for and ask if they will be happy to support you and write your reference (a teacher reference is often required for these placements).
It’s often difficult for those without a medical contact who works in a hospital to get hospital based shadowing experience, but these schemes make it possible.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a place on a hospital placement though, as medical schools are often more interested in your volunteering experience than your shadowing experience!