According to the British Medical Association (BMA), work placements are an essential step to securing a place at any UK medical school with institutions looking for students with a range of healthcare experience.
Here’s our top 10 tips on how to gain work placements and make the most of the experience:
You can get placements in a range of healthcare settings from GP practices to hospitals and even internationally. Bear in mind a lot of people will be looking to gain similar experience, so apply early for as many opportunities as possible to make sure you get a good placement.
Get in touch with GP practice managers and explain who you are and ask them about placements and how they can help you gain experience. If you can’t shadow a doctor, look to other healthcare professionals, such as pharmacists and physiotherapists.
Make the most of your contacts, such as relatives, friends and neighbours, who work in hospitals or other parts of the healthcare sector.
Speak to your teachers and careers advisers who can help you find placements. At CCCG, we work with dozens of employers in healthcare to provide opportunities for our students to gain experience and learn from those working in the sector, as well as support with UCAS applications.
Look at opportunities for experience at medical schools like Brighton and Sussex Medical School, which offers a six-week virtual work experience programme. While not designed to completely replace in-person placements in the real world, this course gives an insight into medicine and being a doctor. The course introduces students to the NHS and different medical roles including the key skills needed to work in those areas and challenges they face.
The BMA does not encourage healthcare professionals to charge students for placements, although there may be instances where you could be asked to cover costs such as administration. Don’t be afraid to ask if there are any costs you need to pay.
Dress smartly when on your placement, explain what you would like to gain from the experience and what you would like to learn while you are there. Ask questions with enthusiasm to a diverse mix of staff to give you a great insight into healthcare.
Talk politely to patients and remember that confidentiality is important and under no circumstances discuss their issues outside the organisation where you are on placement. Don’t take it personally if a patient wishes to be seen without a student present.
Keep a diary of what you did and saw each day, which can help solidify what you learn and be an important reference tool when you come to writing your UCAS personal statement and preparing for medical school interviews.
Finally, here’s a list of other organisations that can help with finding work placements:
Apply now for A Levels at City and Islington College here and Westminster Kingsway College here.