Results are out! Find what you need...fast. Get quick advice or join the chat
Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free to post

*MEGATHREAD* - Work Experience and Voluntary Work - READ BEFORE POSTING

Announcements Posted on
Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
    • Thread Starter
    • 38 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    Understandably, lots of applicants are going to have lots of questions about work experience, because it is an important part of a medicine application. However, there currently seem to be a rather large number of these threads all asking similar questions, and we old farts actually at medical school are getting kind of tired of answering the same questions over and over. So, from now, all work exp questions need to be posted here or threads will be locked and you won't get the help you want!

    Firstly, please READ the excellent and extensive section on Work Experience in the wiki. This gives you the basics of how to apply, where to try, and alternatives for if medical work experience isn't too forthcoming.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as "enough" work experience. There is no set amount that will guarantee you a place or even an interview - although you do need to have done something. Medical schools understand that some people have better connections than others - if your parents are doctors, you're far more likely to be able to get to see lots of cool stuff - and that different areas have varying levels of availability of shadowing schemes etc - somewhere urban is going to have lots more hospitals and opportunities than somewhere rural. The key thing is not the amount, but what you learn from it. Even if it's only pushing the tea trolley round a hospice, try and reflect on your experiences - talk to patients, talk to relatives, talk to staff (nursing, medical and others!) Use whatever you have to gain an understanding both of what Medicine really involves, and of what patients experience when they are ill - and I mean emotionally as well as physically. Even in non-medical placements like youth group work, use this to build your communication skills and empathy. Even paid employment like bar work, waitressing, reception work etc can create skills important for Medicine. Also, remember that a long-term placement which you regularly commit to is just as important, if not more, than seeing lots of different specialties on a whistle-stop tour. Watching heart surgery may be cool, but you won't actually be doing that for at least another 10 years - try to find out what the juniors actually do.

    Thirdly, try to start early, but don't panic if you start late. It's perfectly ok to put down in your PS that you plan to do X placement and hope to gain Y from it - then you can talk more in interview if needed.

    Finally, I think it would be nice to have a central list of what all the current medics did as work experience, just so you can have some idea of the vast range of things it's possible to do, and the range of amounts different people completed.

    Helenia (applied 2001 for 2003 entry): 2 weeks in GP practice, mainly reception work but sat in on a few clinics. 1 week shadowing SHOs in A&E - this took a LONG time to sort out and the hospital I ended up at was my 5th choice, an hour's drive from home - and I couldn't drive - I love my parents! 3 years as a Young Leader with Brownies. A few weeks volunteering in local nursery school in my school holidays.

    If you still have anything to ask, please post it here!
    • 25 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Renal (applied 2003 for 2004 5-year entry) did 4 days in an RAF medical centre when he was on a station with the air cadets and 2 days with the physioterrorists at his local DGH. He was also in the cadets for 7 years as an NCO and staff. He worked as a football steward and as a bookmakers cashier. Was a prefect and senior prefect at school. And he had experience of being a chronically ill patient.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    graemematt (applied 2003, 2006 AND 2007, finally getting 2008 entry) has done 3 week-long work experience placements at hospitals, 3 months work in a hospice, 1 month's voluntary work with Roma children in romania, 3 months in a care home for the elderly, and 5 or 6 classes as an IT teacher (which is hilarious as I know nothing of computers!). Also was a deputy house captain at school, uni judo club treasurer, and charities officer for a hall of residence. And some other stuff.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Renal)
    Renal (applied 2003 for 2004 entry) did 4 days in an RAF medical centre when he was on a station with the air cadets and 2 days with the physioterrorists at his local DGH. He was also in the cadets for 7 years as an NCO and staff. He worked as a football steward and as a bookmakers cashier. And he had experience of being a chronically ill patient.
    What RAF courses did you do?

    I have done my GS, am on the ACLC this summer, and am on a reserve list to do a Flying Scholarship. Hope to become Flt Sgt as well. :cool:
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Successfully applied for 2003 standard course entry with:
    Clinical Shadowing - 2 weeks with doctors (regs/consultants mostly) and some other staff (leads/specialists) in a few different hospital departments
    Employment - hospital administrative assistant full time over lower 6th summer
    Voluntary - organization working with young people who were disabled or from disadvantaged backgrounds (sporadically in school holidays over ~5 years) & community service at a preschool (1 afternoon a week over a few terms)
    Bit of being a Patient experience!

    Positions of leadership/teamworky things: Senior Prefect, county sport & senior sports colours





    Think stating school leaver or graduate course might be helpful?
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    j00ni (applied 2001 for 2002 entry): 2 years volunteering in nursing/residential home, 1 year experience as an adult placement carer, 1 week shadowing in child development clinic
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Alex (applied 2008 entry): 3 days shadowing at the local hospital, one week in a school to spend some time working with children, one week at Vitalise working with people with severe disabilities (I really enjoyed this week, would definitely recommend it), then work 4 nights a week at the after school club of a nearby nursery.

    I struggled to get directly related experience due to my NHS trust, so I just found anything else that involved working with people if I'm being honest
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Sucessfully applied for A100 '08

    about just under 2 (school term years) of hospice work, couple of hours an afternoon a week. 2weeks working with a kids holiday (Mencap) and bits and bobs of hospital shadowing (although the hospital closed so diddn't get much) and I did some teacing as well.

    Most of what I did - I kept doing it because it was fun, and as you get to know the people you work with, you want to do it, as opposed to fulfilling any requirements.

    So do it as an experience, even if you don't get into med, your efforts will have helped people.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Not a current medic, but have been successful in gaining an offer for 2008 entry.

    1 week shadowing cardiology technicians (and a few doctors) in outpatients.
    6 months volunteering on a ward, doing meal duties, admin stuff. (had only just started this when it came to applying, so you don't have to have all your experience done by the time you apply )

    Non-medicine stuff i had was;
    6 months volunteering at brownies helping out with their stuff.
    Part time saturday job at Primark.
    Different things at school showing leadership qualities/teamwork.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    arpeggio ('08 entry):
    1 year volunteering at a hospice (it was about 10 months at the time of applying), 7 months in a special school one afternoon a week, 1 week Vitalise, 1 week A&E, 1 week day surgery, 1 week stroke unit, 1 week GP. Also part time job and a few different things in and out of school like prefecting, tutoring a younger pupil for Maths and helping direct/acting in a play with a special school.

    -Voluntary work > work experience from the point of view of actually doing things, talking to patients etc. Confidentiality can be a big problem; I spent my week at the GP surgery doing admin work. If you want to actually see or do something voluntary work is your best bet.
    -I heartily reccommend Vitalise for hands-on experience
    -Hospital work experience is great for seeing what a doctor actually does and talking to them about the job, as well as seeing occupational therapists, nurses etc at work
    -It is quality over quantity, but if you enjoy it you'll naturally want to carry it on for longer or find more placements. However don't expect to fit it all on your UCAS form or talk about everything at interview!
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Successfully applied for 08-09 entry.

    2 months work shadowing with GP(s) at pediatrics, cardiology and endocrinology.
    Volunteered at 2 free clinics during the summer. Attended two endocrinology seminars with my GP.

    Not related directly to medicine: lots of long term community service projects at schools, helping younger kids with homework and schoolwork, part of the student budget committee at school,
    • 6 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Successful application for 2007 entry in 2006.
    School leaver (Gap year but was doing more A levels (not resits) )
    Did a week with a renal surgeon at a certain Royal London hospital , week with a community psychiatric centre, a week with a GPs surgery - mostly admin.
    Volunteering Some community projects, old people's home, and a year helping out a school class as an assistant.

    And all the usual blah , was head of whole school and 6th form council, play instruments ZZZzzzzZZZ
    • 32 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Successful applicant for 2008 entry
    Applied while on gap year.

    2 days shadowing GP (sitting in on consultations, home visits, meetings, etc - also shadowed phlebotomist and nurse practitioner during this time)
    3 days on Care of the Elderly ward (shadowing doctors on wards, in clinic, attended teaching sessions, etc)
    2 weeks in Paediatrics (shadowing doctors/nurses on wards, in clinic, etc)
    1 morning in Cardiology
    1 afternoon in Vascular surgery (clinic + theatres)
    1 day in Endoscopy
    3 days in Orthopaedics (watching surgery and shadowing docs)
    1 day in Haemodialysis Unit
    1 day on Renal ward (shadowing nurses/ HCAs)
    1 afternoon Endocrinology Clinic
    1 afternoon on Gastro ward (shadowing docs)

    1 year volunteering on a medical ward (acting as an unpaid HCA and running errands)
    1 year volunteering at a hospice (unpaid waitress)

    Work as a receptionist/ admin clerk in General Practice on my gap year

    Tutored younger pupils, was on charity committee, worked in a fish & chip shop for 18 months, various music/sporty things, six months as an assistant in science classes, school prefect.

    I think I only mentioned the hospice and paediatrics at interview.
    • Thread Starter
    • 38 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    Becca-Sarah, did you organise each of those things separately, or did the hospital put together some kind of programme for you?
    • 32 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    GP, hospice, & hospital volunteering I organised myself.
    Hosp experience was done via people from my church that worked in healthcare; I think a physio gave me the most contacts, then I emailed them asking for shadowing placements.
    Other stuff was organised just by harassing docs once I was on placement to spend time in other departments. For example, the three and a half days of surgery I observed came as a result of sitting in on two clinics and directly asking if I could join the surgeons in theatre. I figured it couldn't do any harm to ask...

    I should add that I didn't intend to do as much as I did, and I know a lot of it was over and above what's needed, but I was applying while on my gap year having changed my mind about careers after my initial UCAS form went off, so work exp was as much proving to myself that I was making the right choice as having something to write about.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    My brother:

    Zero voluntary work.
    Zero work experience.

    Offers from SGUL, Barts and UEA. Rejected from UCL.

    Kind of makes you wonder....

    (He didn't lie about anything either at interview/personal statement)
    • 8 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Applied 2006 for 2007:
    Two weeks at a hospital (the consultant who was supposed to be in charge of me was on holiday...you'd think he would have noticed that. Anyway, they just shunted me all over the hospital)
    Two days at a GP surgery
    Two days at another hospital with radiology.
    Volunteered once a week in a ward for about six months.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    i've got one question that's probably been asked before but...i can't find the answer.
    i've already done a week's WE in my local hospital...which i gather i've been pretty lucky to get...but i really want to try and get some more in a hospital setting (bearing in mind i have some other stuff too.) Is it best to ring individual departments to see what their policies are on having students in, then get in touch by writing?
    or d'you think they'll judge me as rude and being a bit too forward. i'm finding it hard to find the balance between being assertive and pushy
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by jenifaar)
    i've got one question that's probably been asked before but...i can't find the answer.
    i've already done a week's WE in my local hospital...which i gather i've been pretty lucky to get...but i really want to try and get some more in a hospital setting (bearing in mind i have some other stuff too.) Is it best to ring individual departments to see what their policies are on having students in, then get in touch by writing?
    or d'you think they'll judge me as rude and being a bit too forward. i'm finding it hard to find the balance between being assertive and pushy
    Why don't you contact the doctor who you were working with to ask if they have any contacts who'd be happy to take you on for a week or two, then go from there? I find letters are more polite first, and then ring up if you don't get a reply after a few weeks.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I feel terribly underqualified!

    BlueRoses: 1 week's school work experience in a Neuroscience ward, 6 months volunteering at a nursing home, 3 years Rainbows young leader.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: October 25, 2014
New on TSR

Personal statement help

Use our clever tool to create a PS you're proud of.

Article updates
Reputation gems:
You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.