Work experience… What you can do? How to get it?

So you’ve decided you want to be a Doctor…


You are currently probably thinking of getting some work experience… To see if its either like ER, saving lives, yelling “get the epinephrine STAT”

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 01.23.41 Or think it’s like greys anatomy where the consultants are all super models and everyone has lots of sex… Yes even you Dr Bailey you minx

ahhh McSteamy

ahhh McSteamy… I’m Cured!

When in reality it probably isn’t

Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 19.57.11
This is why Work Experience is vital for YOU to understand if medicine is a career you want to go into or if there is something else more suited to you… Like engineering, nursing, business, stripping, working for an international drug cartel or the dole

story of my life

So this is graduatemedicineapplicant’s (now actually a student) to work experience!


Step one.. What kinds of work experience are there?

1. The obvious… Shadowing a Doctor
This is the obvious choice, BUT there is also a lot of rumours around getting it i.e. needing a connection in a hospital (albeit it definitely helps!)… But fear not! Check with your local hospital HR department as MANY hospitals run a work experience programs (Just google work experience hospitals!). Another thing is to do is email as many Consultants and Doctors you can: Find emails on hospital websites, be friendly, enthusiastic and proactive and there will be a Doctor out there who is willing to let you shadow them… BUT this all needs to go through the Hospitals HR!

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 23.11.09

BUT you will need to have your shit together and be organised, there is no point leaving this until the last minute, it needs to be planned upto 6 months in advance!

The advantages of this work experience is that you will experience first hand what it is like to shadow a Doctor and get a realistic view of their day to day job and what medicine really entails!
Disadvantages of work experience can be it can get a bit boring at times especially since you will not be allowed to do much and it really depends on the Doctor you are with


To get the most out of it you MUST be enthusiastic! Don’t be shy to ask as many questions as you want, no matter how stupid – This is your opportunity to see what it is really like! We like you a lot more if you are interested and engaged!


2. Volunteer work
Firstly… Volunteer ONLY if you are going to commit to it and enjoy it! Nothing worse than a kid half heartedly volunteering just to get into medical school. You need to commit!
Now that is out the way… There are many volunteering opportunities you can do to show your commitment to medicine (And demonstrate skills!).

There is:

  • Hospital volunteering (helping patients, entertaining patients)
  • Volunteering in a care home/hospice
  • Scouts and Guides
  • Volunteering at school with helping pupils
  • Red Cross
  • St Johns
  • Kids camps

The opportunities are endless and they don’t have to be in a medical setting! As long as you are caring and demonstrating those good old qualities of a Doctor you will be fine (see the personal statement page)
Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 21.10.45

Personally I volunteered from a young age with the Scouts and the Red Cross (in emergency response) because I wanted too and then when i decided to apply for medicine it came in very useful to demonstrate certain skills/characteristics in my personal statement and interview.

Again, this needs to be organised in advance! You want to show you are committing to something so pick something you will enjoy. It is a lot of fun! Just go on the websites and email them or phone up places…. The key word is: PROACTIVE


3. Paid work
A lot of applicants (especially gap year and mature students) work in healthcare roles, whether this be in a health care assistant (HCA), carer, phlebotomist or other health care roles. This is a really good way to show your commitment to medicine and will also give you a vital insight into healthcare as a whole! The NHS jobs website is a good place to start, but be persistent when applying, it can take many applications to get an interview! And even if it asks for 6 months experience, apply! You never know they might like other experience you have


However, again to show the skills for medicine it doesn’t have to be healthcare related. If you cannot get a HCA role in your GAP YAH fear not! Working in retail is a very good example… Try working New years day hung over dealing with people shouting at you, while remaining professional and empathetic (skills for medicine!), but make sure to keep with the volunteering/medicine related activity if you are working in a non-medical field.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 22.26.57

4. The voluntourism
I won’t say much about this as I know a lot of people do it and have amazing times paying (a lot) of money to go out to places like Asia or Africa to spend a few weeks ‘volunteering’ at a hospital or taking pictures with children for Tinder (click here)

If you want to pay the money go for it, i know many people who’ve have an amazing time… But PLEASE do NOT do anything that you wouldn’t be allowed to in the UK as a non-medical profession… That means no playing Doctor on any patients (again I’ve heard horror stories) and do something that you feel uncomfortable with AT ALL.
Helping a nurse change a dressing on a patient safely – okay!
Injecting patients without supervision (or just at all) – NOT okay

There are other organisations that have schemes in place for young people such as the ICS scheme with the Government, which I highly recommend.
One thing you can do here in the UK though is raising awareness of the issues that happen in developing countries lead to change!

Any other tips or idea’s for Work experience?! If so pop them in a comment below! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s