Want to secure the best work experience for your medical school application? Read on for all my best approaches that are sure to help.
Work experience is a key component for medical school applications. It’s pretty obvious that it’s the only real way for prospective students to see if medicine is right for them. Another no brainer is that being a doctor is no easy thing. Are long days, long nights and a busy lifestyle in general what you’re willing to sign up for?
For an applicant, having medical work experience under your belt is crucial in showing your motivation to study medicine. Especially when you come around to writing your personal statement and attending interviews. Your work experiences will be a large chunk of what you talk about.
Finding work experience isn’t anywhere near impossible contrary to popular opinion. It may feel like it is but if you persevere and follow my steps you should be able to secure a few of your choices. When I was looking for work experience, I sent emails to more than 20 GP practices and I only ended up getting 2 responses. One was for a 3-day placement and another offered just one day. This may seem small, but you’ll come to find out that any amount of time is valuable. In health care environments, you can learn a lot in one hour alone! So, take anything they give you. You can always try and negotiate longer periods at a later stage. Either via email or asking to stay a few days extra once you get there.
So how do you find your work experience?
There are a few ways that you can try. I would suggest trying multiple if not all of them to increase your chances. Not only that but also to gain a bigger variety of clinical work experience. When I was searching, I tried all of them apart from number four. This enabled me to secure work experience at both a GP and a hospital. Which also gave me the ability to compare and contrast the different experiences I had.
1. Approach your connections
Relatives or family friends should be your first port of call. Use any connections you have because they provide one of the easiest routes to get work experience. They don’t even need to be doctors themselves, any connection to a clinical setting is perfect! I have known people to ask their friends parents who are doctors or nurses to shadow them as their medical work experience.
Although I’m aware that some people like to secure work experience independently. So, if that’s you keep on reading for how to do this.
2. Look up GPs/Care homes in your local area
Search for General practices and care homes in your area, google is perfect for this. For example, a simple Google search for “General Practices near me” should cause a whole load to appear. Write down the all contact information of the ones you find.
Now you should have a few GPs and care homes to contact and enquire about the possibility of spending some time at their facility.
Bear in mind that they may be busy so you dropping them an email might be better than calling them. If you’re enquiring for a GP placement, address the email to the Practice Manager. They are usually staff member who organises these things.
Also, note that some general practices won’t allow you to shadow their GP’s if you are also a member of their practice. Confidentiality is a huge factor that needs to be considered, and you may know some of their patients if you are one too.
3. Look on Hospital Websites
Hospitals often have work experience programmes that they offer to prospective healthcare students. Visit the hospitals that you are interested in and follow their application instructions. They are usually an online application form or a set of instructions for an email you need to send.
Emailing Consultants directly:
Emailing hospitals and emailing consultants are two different things. If you email the hospital, they will most likely have an application process already in place. Additionally, they may place you anywhere in the hospital that has space for a work experience student. Whereas, emailing consultants or their secretaries directly provides sort of a back route. The consultants can decide if they are willing to take on any work experience students themselves.
Hospitals often have a ‘find a consultant’ feature on their website. Which allows you to go on your chosen hospital’s website and look for specific consultants on this page. This should give loads of email addresses for consultants you can reach out to.
An example of this is Bart’s Health NHS Trust which looks like this:
4. Paying for Medical work experience
Another option you can take to gain some work experience is paying for it. There are a few companies in the UK that allow you to pay a fee to gain a work experience placement. Companies such as The Pre Med Projects even have opportunities abroad! The benefit of them is that they offer more than just regular work experience. The price includes accommodation, a varied itinerary and more hands-on teaching/experiences. I’ve even heard you get to learn skills such as how to do surgical sutures. On the other hand, the downside is they are usually very pricey and we’re talking £1000+. Due to the lack of affordability, I would always try the free methods above first. They are just as effective!
This is the exact email template that I sent out when I was trying to secure some work experience. I remember going on The Student Room to find the perfect template and then modifying it to my liking. The great thing is it can be used for whatever field of medicine you are enquiring about. Whether it’s a GP, care home or hospital, just fill in the gaps provided and send out your emails!
Dear [Practice Manager/ Dr X/ Secretary of Mr X],
I am emailing to enquire about the possibility of work experience at your [surgery/hospital/care home]. I am a [insert age] year old student in [sixth form/ insert year group] currently sitting my [A-Levels/GCSEs] ([subject], [subject], [subject]). You don’t need to include your subjects if you are sitting your GCSEs.
I am very interested in pursuing a career in medicine and feel that the opportunity to spend some time with you in the [insert location of work experience] would be an invaluable experience. I am already very aware of the importance of patient confidentiality when working in a clinical environment. Given that, I believe that I have the maturity and integrity to abide by the code of conduct at your establishment.
Please see my CV attached and if you need any further information please let me know. I would greatly appreciate your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
If you wish to add more detail to your emails, make sure they are relevant and not dead space. Doctors are very busy, and chances are they won’t have the time to read your entire email if you make it too long. At the end of the day, it’s only an email to enquire not a personal statement.
Remember to attach your CV, to make the email even more professional. The more supporting evidence to show you have attributes to conduct yourself well the better.
I hope you found that useful. I wish you luck in finding your work experiences and hope you get as much out them as you can. Thanks for reading! If you’ve got this far, please SUBSCRIBE to the blog to get more posts like this straight to your inbox.