Published on 15th May 2020 by Premela


Over the past couple of months, there has been a lot of changes to teaching, exams, and the normal academic system as you’ll all have already experienced.

A lot of the face-to-face teaching methods have had to substitute for online alternatives and this makes no exception to students who are searching for medical work experience.

In this post, I’m going to tell you how to deal with not being able to get medical work experience and share some alternative ways you can get the same insight into medicine…

#1 – Think outside the box – what other experiences can you apply to medicine?

Even prior to the Covid-19 crisis medical work experience has always been something that’s quite difficult to obtain.

For that reason, it’s never been a mandatory requirement from medical schools and each year huge portions of students will get into medical school without doing what you’re probably regarding as “standard work experience”: volunteering in a hospital, shadowing a GP etc.

You’ve probably done countless activities that would easily allow you to demonstrate your communication skills, teamwork ability, capacity to care etc…

In your personal statement, you need to be able to demonstrate that you possess the skills required of a doctor and that you’ve seen them in practise.

You may have done some peer mentoring, babysat for a family member, worked part-time in a shop – these are all valuable experiences that you can relate back to Medicine.

All you need to do is think about the experiences you already have a little more critically.

#2 – Look to other ways you can volunteer your time in your community

If you’ve thought about experiences you already have and you’re still feeling a little stuck and feel you need more experience, know that there are other voluntary roles that have become available over these past few months.

There are many ways you can be helping your local community whether it’s by helping a neighbour with shopping or making phone calls to people who live alone – anything of this nature will definitely count towards your experience.

Here’s a list of some charities that you can volunteer for all from the comfort of your own home.

#3 – Virtual work experience

One of the most popular platforms that have come to light recently is the online package that Brighton and Sussex medical school has put together giving to an insight into the NHS which walks you through different medical specialities.

You’re given an insight into the different roles of a doctor, challenges they may face, the wayward rounds work and the hospital runs. You are even given a certificate of completion at the end.

Read >>>BSMS Virtual Work Experience – All You Need To Know

#4 – Reflect and gain insight from news updates

Remember the whole purpose behind work experience is so that you can get a true insight into what working as a doctor and the realities of the NHS are.

You don’t have to physically be in a hospital to know what’s happening in the NHS today.

There are daily reports of cases, doctors sharing their experiences of working on the frontline on social media – all that is insight so technically as good as getting work experience. 

It’s perfectly acceptable to mention in your personal statement that you had work experience planned for this period which then had to be cancelled as long as you then reflect on what this crisis has taught you about the practice of medicine.

I’d advise you to keep a reflective diary and write down thoughts and learning points based on the current situation.

Whether that is new challenges for doctors that have been brought to light for you or even reflecting on the mental health impact of a pandemic on society at large.

#5 – Use other forms of media to get an insight into medicine

You can gain insight from other places too: watch surgeries on YouTube, read medical books, read medical blogs.

On my blog, I share an insight into what it’s like to be a medical student as well as having doctors from different specialties sharing an insight into their work life.

Here are some of the best books for medical school applicants to try and read:

  • This is Going to Hurt
  • Bad Science
  • Being Mortal
  • When Breath Becomes Air
  • Do No Harm
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat
  • Fragile Lives
  • Trust Me I’m a Junior Doctor

Read >>> Lockdown: Wider Reading for Aspiring Medics

#6 – Speak to doctors and students

Beyond all the experiences I’ve covered above if you have any specific questions about what it’s like to study or practise medicine don’t hesitate to reach out to doctors and students over social media.

We will all be more than happy to help you out and answer any questions you have.

I hope this has helped and given you a bit of an idea of what you can do for work experience!

Words by: Masumah Jannah

Other COVID-19 articles to check out:

5 Things To Do From Home To Support Your Medicine Application

Staying Motivated During Lockdown

COVID-19 – The Best Work Experience Alternatives


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