Medical Work Experience Alternatives
1 month ago by Chris
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more difficult for students to obtain in person work experience. Many hospitals and other organisations have suspended or restricted their work experience programs. However, if you are organised and cast the net wide, you can usually obtain in person work experience. Our blog on medical work experience provides some advice.
However, if you are unable to obtain in-person work experience, don’t despair! There are other ways that you can demonstrate to universities that you have a realistic understanding of the medical profession, and that you are motivated to pursue medicine as a career. This blog discusses alternatives to in person medical work experience.
Volunteer work is an excellent substitute for in person medical work experience. Volunteer work conducted in a medical or health related setting demonstrates several attributes. Firstly, it shows that you are an altruistic person that genuinely cares about others and the community. Secondly, it shows that you understand the role of a carer and the challenges that this type of work entails. Thirdly, it demonstrates your motivation to pursue a career in medicine or a health-related field.
In person volunteer work is the best substitute for work experience. To obtain volunteer work, you can approach a local nursing home or community group to ask if you can shadow and/or assist staff. The best types of volunteer work involve you directly interacting with those who are disadvantaged, rather than work such as fundraising, where you are relatively ‘sheltered’ from this environment. Examples of organisations to approach include nursing or care homes, organisations that help people with disabilities, welfare organisations helping those who are homeless etc.
Volunteer work in non-health related settings is still valuable and worth mentioning in your written applications and in medical interviews, although it will not necessarily demonstrate that you have a good understanding of what working in a health-related setting involves.
Speaking with a doctor and/or medical student
Speaking with people who are currently studying or practicing medicine will give you a good insight into medicine as a profession. You can speak with them in person, over the phone or via virtual means (Facetime, Zoom etc.). Make sure you have a list of questions prepared to ask them to ensure you gain the most from this experience.
If you don’t know anyone personally, you can speak with your local General Practitioner. Tell them that you are a prospective medical student, and you are interested in learning more about life as a doctor. Most doctors will be more than willing to help.
MedEntry workshops provide the opportunity for you to interact with Dr Ray, a specialist Gastroenterologist and UCAT expert, as well as medical students across the country.
Virtual work experience
Some organisations provide virtual work experience opportunities as a substitute for in-person experiences. Virtual work experience allows you to gain an insight into life as a doctor, as well as provide the opportunity to interact with doctors and ask questions.
MedEntry is offering a virtual work experience opportunity which allows you to hear from people at each stage of the medical journey, including medical students, junior doctors and senior consultant doctors.
Other virtual work experience opportunities include:
There are many books that provide an insight view into medicine and life as a doctor. These include:
‘Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre
‘Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End’, ‘Better’ and ‘Complications’ by Atul Gawande
‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi
Doctors’ careers and their memorable cases
Watching TV Programs
Television can also provide an understanding of medicine as a profession. Note that documentaries tend to provide a more realistic view of life in medicine. Dramas should be avoided as they give an inaccurate, sensationalist view of medicine.
Examples of medical documentaries include:
Internet resources can provide some useful content. These include:
Podcasts can be a great way to learn about a career in medicine when you’re on the go. Here are some suggestions:
Other work experience substitutes include:
Researching a topic of relevance, writing up a report and submitting it to your local newspaper or community bulletin for publication
Contacting an academic at a local university, and offering to work on one of their health-related research projects
There are endless activities you can pursue if you think outside the box!