Struggling to Gain Work Experience? Your Next Steps
So, you want to apply to Medicine but you’re struggling to find medical work experience in a hospital or GP. What next? This blog will detail your next steps and some key alternative routes you could try to strengthen your application.
This is the first thing to try. Make sure you use your contacts wisely. Do you have friends, family or acquaintances who work for the NHS? Could your parents ask their colleagues? Do you know somebody who studies Medicine? Could you ask your teachers at school?
Another avenue worth exploring is your school’s careers department. Students pursuing Medicine in the past may have completed work experience at local hospitals or GPs, so your school may already have established contacts there – it’s worth asking!
Struggling to find experience in your local area? You could consider searching further afield to complete your work experience.
Could you stay with friends or family in a different city over the summer while you complete your placement? Expanding your search to nearby cities and towns may help you find a placement more easily – try researching hospitals and GPs in different areas of the UK where you may be able to stay with friends/family or travel to by train.
Feel like you’ve tried everything? If you’re struggling to gain experience in hospitals or GPs, another route to explore is volunteering.
Gaining experience in a care-giving capacity is a great way to develop key characteristics for Medicine, from communication to empathy. There are a range of places you can volunteer: try contacting charity shops, youth groups and local care homes. You could also try contacting St John’s Ambulance or Community Service Volunteers (CSV).
Think outside the box
Get creative! If you can’t find a placement in a GP or hospital, try thinking of other ways you could gain experience relevant to medicine. As well as volunteering, mentioned above, you could also try looking for a placement in a pharmacy or with a mental health charity.
Remember too that non-medical work experience can be just as valuable as medical experience to develop your skills. It’s all about how you reflect on what you have learnt and how you transfer these skills to your medicine application. You can develop excellent communication and problem-solving skills in a non-medical setting, such as working in catering, or in your local charity shop, so think creatively about how you can transfer your skills to Medicine.
Do your research
It’s important to research medical schools you’re interested in, as each will place different emphasis on work experience. Make sure you do your research to apply strategically with the work experience you’ve got to increase your chances! You can see a full list of the kinds of work experience each medical school looks for on our Medical School Work Experience Requirements page.