Want to be a doctor? Here’s our top 10 tips for medical work experience

Many of our students taking A Levels in Biology and Chemistry at City and Islington College and Westminster Kingsway College have ambitions to work as doctors or in medicine.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Make the most of your contacts, such as relatives, friends and neighbours, who work in hospitals or other parts of the healthcare sector.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

WestKing Nominated for Two Prestigious Awards

Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Victoria has been nominated in two categories at the coveted Cateys Awards 2020.

The Cateys are the ‘Oscars’ of the hospitality industry, and are run by the leading industry magazine The Caterer. The awards are one of the biggest events in the hospitality calendar and recognise the “most talented individuals, the biggest brands and strongest performers in the hospitality industry.”

WestKing has been shortlisted in two categories:

  • Deputy Executive Principal (and Master Chocolatier) Gary Hunter, is shortlisted for the Education and Training Award;
  • The college’s unique and innovative Culinary Medicine programme and degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition, have been nominated for the Health and Nutrition Award.

Speaking about his nomination, Gary Hunter said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been shortlisted for this year’s Cateys, alongside three other great culinary educators.

“I am fortunate to lead a wonderful team of professionals at Westminster Kingsway College, who inspire and educate our culinary students every day. This nomination is very much a recognition of their hard work, dedication and expertise.”

Westminster Kingsway College has over 100 years’ culinary expertise and we are at the forefront of the emerging science of culinary medicine. We help to run a culinary medicine course for NHS clinicians (in partnership with Culinary Medicine UK), and running our own Degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition.

The culinary medicine course gives doctors and medical students a greater understanding of the vital role that nutrition plays in health, and enables them to speak to their patients about the dietary changes they could make based on their medical condition.

The course has recently been adapted to educate students about nutrition challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, for example the difficulties that some – especially those from poorer households – have in getting good-quality and nutritious food to help them fight infection.

Our degree course in Culinary Health and Nutrition is the only one of its kind. It’s designed for trained chefs and gives them an in-depth understanding of the medical effects of food on health and wellbeing, and a grounding in the scientific principles of clinical nutrition. The degree is a stepping-stone into many careers in nutrition, including in commercial product development, corporate wellness, working with the health sector, public health, the supplementation industry and sports nutrition.

WestKing Chef Lecturer Vince Kelly tutors on both courses. He told us:
“It’s fantastic that the college has been recognised for our Culinary Medicine programme and our new Culinary Health and Nutrition Degree course. The link between nutrition and health is – thankfully – becoming better understood in both the hospitality and clinical worlds, and I am really pleased to be able to pass on my knowledge, passion and expertise to clinicians and my fellow professional chefs.”

The winners of the Cateys will be revealed in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday 24 November.

Find out more about all our culinary arts and hospitality courses.