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Your Guide to Medical Work Experience

Medical work experience is key to an effective medicine application. Broadly speaking, medicine work experience can be split into three categories: clinical work experience, non-clinical work experience and volunteering. In this blog, we’ll discuss each of the three types and how to gain them.

You can find out more about the kinds of work experience medical schools look for on our Medical School Work Experience Requirements page.

Clinical Work Experience:

What is clinical work experience?

Clinical work experience effectively includes any work experience in which you are directly working with healthcare professionals to treat patients. From my experience, having experience in both a primary (GP) and secondary (hospital) care setting is ideal, but I have many friends who received an offer having only had experience of one of these!

How can I gain clinical work experience?

In the past, gaining work experience, particularly in a clinical environment, was effectively down to who you knew. Now, however, there are many schemes, both within schools and at hospitals, which allow you to be paired up with a medical professional to gain clinical experience. Speak to your local careers advisor or contact your local hospital, who are sure to put you in touch with the right people.

How can clinical work experience help in your application?

In your personal statement and at interview, you will be expected to demonstrate the attributes expected of a medical student – including teamwork, empathy, communication and leadership skills. I found that the majority of the examples I used to demonstrate these skills were derived from the clinical work experience I had.

Non-Clinical Work Experience

What is non-clinical work experience?

Non-clinical work experience can cover a range of things: this could include medical administration, receptionist or secretary work, or working in retail or at your local café. 

How can I gain non-clinical work experience?

With non-clinical experience, I found that there were many job opportunities in medical administration that could be found by either looking online, or visiting local GPs. If you already have a retail or waitressing job, you can use the skills you have developed there in your medicine application. 

How can non-clinical work experience help in your application?

The most important reason to carry out work experience is to help you decide whether medicine is for you. Non-clinical experience like medical administration will expose you to the less glamourous side of medicine – and other jobs can also help you to transfer key skills to medicine – for example, you can develop skills like communication and teamwork whilst working in catering or retail.

You can also read our post, How to Apply Charity Work Experience to Medicine, here.

Volunteering Work Experience

What is voluntary work experience?

Many of you will already be doing this as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award, but this can include working at your local care home or a charity too. Don’t discount the value of this experience, as this can be very useful in transferring skills to medicine, such as empathy and communication.

How can I gain voluntary work experience?

Care homes are always looking for volunteers, so I would recommend contacting your local care home or various charities in the January of the year you apply.

How can voluntary work experience help in your application?

Voluntary work experience is crucial in developing key skills for medicine. Working in a local care home or charity will enable you to interact with all kinds of people from all walks of life – and working with different members of the public is key for medicine. You can develop key skills such as empathy, communication, teamwork and leadership skills in these placements.

Hopefully this clears up questions that you may have about work experience. Good luck in your applications!

Words: Ben Fox

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