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Medical student at James Alexander Medical Practice, Hull

Summer jobs: Making the most of the experience

Working this summer?

If you are working over the summer holiday, your experience can really benefit your application and interview to medical school.

Whatever experience you have, you want to make sure you are making the most of your opportunity and reflect on it effectively.

Below, some of our current Medicine students reflect on their summer jobs, and how it helped them apply to medical school.

Daisy Briscoe

Daisy Briscoe - Year 1

I did voluntary work in the local hospital where I would give support with patients to video call their families, due to no visitors being allowed into the hospital due to Covid.

I found the experience really useful as it helped me gain confidence in talking to patients and listening to their difficulties of being in hospital and not being allowed visitors.

I used it in my application and interview for Medicine as an example of how my communication skills have improved.

My tip would be to do as much as you can in the time as possible, so you have lots of examples of different skills you have used.

Kate Batley - Year 1

I worked in hospitality at a hotel, working on the bar and as a waitress.

I developed my communication skills, and gained experience of working in a fast-paced environment and working in a team to deliver excellent customer service.

I learned many interpersonal skills which I was able to demonstrate in my application and interview. Having a part time job alongside your studies in itself shows you have good time management and are organised.

My tip would be to always think about the skills you are developing and relate it to examples. Any experience is good experience if you can decipher what went well/not so well, and what you learned as a result.

Kate Batley
Arbab Gamar

Arbab Qamar - Year 1

I did the ObserveGP online placement through the RCGP and an online experience with the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

I learnt the different roles in a GP placement and what goes on in their day to day lives.

I drew upon what I learnt in my virtual work experience and tried to apply it to the questions in my interview. Since my work experience was virtual, I also had to get information regarding clinical settings and healthcare from other sources.

My tip would be to always reflect on what you've learnt. Writing small things down that you've learnt as you go along helps in your learning process, and you'll always have that information with you to look back on.

Grace Abraham - Year 1

I worked as a tutor for students in Year 4 to Year 9.

The experience was invaluable. It helped me develop my confidence and sparked a passion for teaching that I hope to carry on throughout my medical career. I became much more confident with sharing my ideas in a way that makes sense.

I reflected on various experiences I had had during my time tutoring and also the skills I had learnt over that period.

The value of whatever you do is in your reflection of the experience. If you can demonstrate what you've learnt and how that relates to a career in medicine, then any experience is valuable.

Try keeping a diary of reflection, to help you track the new skills you learn. As well as focusing on the positives part of an experience, remember to think about the less good parts or the times you messed up. You can use these experiences as useful learning curves to guide you in the future.

Grace Abraham
Sarah Mahmood

Sarah Mahmood - Year 1

I undertook work experience in a hospital and also volunteered in a care home.

Work experience in a hospital allowed me to appreciate the challenges that doctors face in a clinical setting while understanding the doctor's role in a multi-disciplinary team.

The experience highlighted that being a doctor is a rewarding and stressful job, as the doctors were under pressure and had specific deadlines to meet. I enjoy working under pressure and being challenged, and this work experience confirmed that Medicine was definitely the career I wanted to pursue.

If I had one piece of advice it would be to ensure you reflect on your work experience. I frequently related my experience in my interview to the questions, and linked qualities that I had seen in doctors and how I've demonstrated those qualities. For example, I displayed empathy when I volunteered at the care home, checking upon the residents regularly and aiding them at mealtimes.

Rebecca Jenkins - Year 3

I volunteered for Dove House Hospice.

I experienced being in a clinical setting for the first time and had to deal with challenges such as interacting with patients and their families when they were very unwell. I learnt about the jobs of nurses and healthcare assistants.

I wrote about this in my personal statement and talked about stories of what I had experienced in my interview.

My tip is to get hands on and ask lots of questions!

Rebecca Jenkins
Nadia Benhebil

Nadia Benhebil – Year 5

I worked in retail before applying to do Medicine.

I learnt key skills that were useful for my career in Medicine. For example, the importance of teamwork and communication skills when working in a busy retail store is paramount and these skills are needed when perusing a medical career.

Some examples of skills I had gained were time management, communication skills, teamwork, empathy, confidence, and independent thinking. All these skills are essential for when you are in medical school.

My tip would be to take whatever experience you can get and apply those skills you have gained to the medical world. Any experience where you actually learn more about yourself and gain key skills are as useful too!

Your next steps

Guide to work experience

Visit our guide to work experience to find out more about:

  • the types of work experience
  • how to make the most of your experience
  • how to effectively reflect on your experience