If you are planning to apply to Medicine this October, then it’s likely your work experience has unfortunately been cancelled due to COVID-19.
What does this mean for your application?
The first thing to remember is that most other applicants will be in the same position. Medical schools must be as fair as possible in their application process and will understand that most applicants have had their work experience plans disrupted.
Therefore, it would be unfair to judge your application negatively because your work experience was cancelled due to reasons beyond your control.
Nevertheless, medical schools wish to see applicants have a realistic insight into life as a doctor and as a medical student. They want to see you understand the key skills required to work in the medical profession. However, work experience is not the only way to better understand what Medicine involves.
As a Senior Tutor at The Medic Portal, I advise several students on what they can do to perfect their applications. Many of the activities and experiences I would recommend are still possible, whether you are in quarantine or not.
So, here are 4 things you can do to help gain that realistic insight – many from the comfort of your own home.
Reach out to Doctors and medical students
Although you might not be able to see doctors in action currently, look at ways around this using technology. Message the contact for your work experience placement to enquire if you can have a short phone call or skype chat with a doctor.
This would give you the chance to ask questions about the role of a doctor and working in healthcare. Your main barrier to this will be that many doctors are busy and so may struggle to make the time for a chat.
So what can you do if this fails? Try contacting a medical student. Many medical students currently find themselves in a similar position to you, working from home with a lot of time to spare.
It’s useful to not only understand day to day life as a doctor, but also as a medical student. You’ll be spending several years at medical school – chatting to current students can give you an idea of what this involves.
You might have a friend of a friend who’s currently at medical school who you can contact. If not, then try platforms like The Student Room or LinkedIn, you’ll find both doctors and students are keen to offer advice and support.
Keep up to date with current affairs
Medical schools want you to keep up to date with what is going on in the healthcare world, and commonly ask questions on this at interviews. We always recommend students start as early as possible with this, now is a perfect time to start.
You may already find yourself glued to the news for updates regarding the coronavirus outbreak – it is difficult to find and news that isn’t on this topic.
COVID-19 and Public Health are likely to be a common topic at interviews, so it is worth keeping up to date with key developments in the outbreak.
Still, make sure to get a balance – constantly reading about COVID-19 can have a negative impact on your mental health.
COVID-19 isn’t the only thing to read about. Here are some other NHS Hot Topics to read up on.
Do some further reading
News updates are not the only place you can gain a better understanding of healthcare. Many students will read healthcare book before they apply.
This allows you to gain insights from healthcare professionals without stepping into a hospital, and you can often learn about a particular aspect of medicine in much more depth.
It is up to you what you read, but we would recommend choosing something you have a genuine interest in. If you want a few ideas, here’s are 5 books to read for aspiring medics.
Arrange work experience later in the year
Obviously, it is difficult to predict when quarantine measures will end, but once this is the case, try dropping your work experience contact a message to look at rearranging your placement.
Most medical schools interview are between December and March, leaving you a large chunk of time beforehand to do some work experience.
You might have to set aside October half-term to attend your work experience or even shorten your placement.
Even if this is the case, remember something is better than nothing. You might not be able to write about your experience on your personal statement but will have the opportunity to talk about it at your interviews.
One final reminder
Remember that your academics are still your priority during this time! Although it is useful to try a few of the activities listed above, do make sure you can still maintain this alongside your studies.
Words by: Daniel Huddart, Senior Tutor at The Medic Portal
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