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Medical student at James Alexander Medical Practice, Hull

Work experience – a student's perspective

Work experience – A student's perspective

If you're interested in studying Medicine, it's never too early to start thinking about getting work experience to support your application to medical schools.

Below, first year Medicine student Sarah Mahmood gives an insight into her work experience and shares some tips to help you make the most of it.

Pictured: Sarah Mahmood, Year 3 Medicine student

Sarah Mahmood

What work experience did you do?

I did quite a lot of work experience as I really enjoyed experiencing the new environments.

When I was in high school, we had to undertake two weeks of work experience relating to a field we were interested in.

I really wanted to do work experience in a hospital setting, however, I was underage at that time. The closest I could get was a pharmacy, which proved to be very useful. I learnt how to communicate effectively with customers and use the complex online system. I also learnt about the importance of stock control as well as the different types of medications and what they are used for.

During Year 12, I undertook work experience at a hospital which gave me an insight into what life as a doctor is like. I shadowed the doctor and learnt the importance of communication, teamwork and patient-centred care.

To gain a wider insight into the field of medicine, I also completed work experience in a care home. This experience opened my eyes to the world of ageing and how the elderly have specific medical and social needs.

How did you organise the work experience?

I emailed local hospitals enquiring about any opportunities they had for me to shadow a medical professional. Once they confirmed that they were taking work experience students, I visited the places to ensure it was definitely something I wanted to do.

I also spoke to my teachers in college, who were very helpful in organising work experience.

Did you have any support to organise work experience, or did you encounter any challenges?

My teachers at college supported me in finding work experience, however, the majority of the work experience I arranged myself by contacting local hospitals and care homes.

One challenge that I encountered was that you had to be a certain age in some places to be able to do work experience. It's worth talking to older years in your college and seeing where they did their work experience.

How do you feel work experience was useful to you?

I learnt about the realities of medicine and the qualities a doctor possesses, such as empathy, leadership and teamwork skills.

Importantly, I learnt that each patient is different, highlighting the importance of patient-centred care, and the need to tailor your practice to each patient's individual needs.

Work experience alongside volunteering confirmed that Medicine was definitely the career I wanted to go into.

How did you use your work experience in your application or interview to medical school?

I spoke about my work experience in my personal statement and reflected on what I had learnt and why that was important.

During my interview preparation, I ensured I practised some questions relating to work experience, as this can be a topic that can arise in the interview. I would advise getting a family member to ask you any questions relating to work experience, and practise formulating an answer spontaneously.

Do you have any tips for prospective students about work experience?

Think about the qualities the doctor possesses and whether you have any of these qualities and how you have demonstrated them in the past.

Reflections are key from work experience: why did you do work experience? What did you learn from your work experience, and what more would you like to see and why?

Mention your work experience in your personal statement, talk about what you learnt and why this is important. Practise talking about your work experience for preparation for the interview.