How Do I Get The Most Out Of Work Experience?

Work experience is an important opportunity for medical applicants each year. It helps paint a picture of life as a medic and if working in medicine is something you would like to pursue. So how do you get the most out of it?

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Work experience is undertaken by thousands of applicants each year. It is important as it can provide a glimpse into the work of a medic and it will help you to consider whether medicine is definitely what you want to do. As the experience is very valuable, it’s crucial that you get the most out of it. Here’s how. 

Plan Ahead For Your Work Experience

Before we begin, there’s one important question that you should think about, and that is something that only you will have the answer to. This is: 

“What do I want to get out of work experience?”

  • It could be to help you decide if medicine is the right choice for you,
  • or if a particular speciality lives up to your expectations,
  • or to satisfy your inner curiosity. 

The point is, be honest with yourself, and really think about what you are hoping to achieve out of it.

You should have a rough idea of what you’re in for and a short description of what to expect. You’ll probably turn up feeling a bit nervous and a bit out of place, and spend the whole time thinking if working in medicine might be something you want to spend the rest of your life doing. This is where it helps to plan ahead. 

How To Prepare For Work Experience

Try and read around the department or organisation that you have been assigned to, and how people (both healthcare professionals and patients) are involved in the service.

It might help to visit the place beforehand so you don’t feel too lost or overwhelmed on the first day. If you do find yourself getting lost in medical terminology during your research, the website ‘Patient‘ is your friend and will help guide you through the maze that is clinical medicine. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be – and it’ll be easier to get involved with what’s going on.

MEDICINE MASTERY BUNDLE

Back up your work experience with a solid Medicine Application.

Get full, comprehensive support for your medical school application with 6med’s Medicine Mastery Bundle. Access everything you need for success as soon as you sign up. 

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UCAT.Ninja

Back up your work experience with a solid Medicine Application.

Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT and Interview and guides you to a successful application.

With our Complete Bundle, we guarantee that you will get at least one offer to study Medicine, or your money back.

Ask Questions During Work Experience

New experiences can be daunting, but if you keep yourself interested and engaged, you’re less likely to feel self-conscious and out of place. One way to do this is to ask questions about things you don’t understand. 

Speaking To Medical Staff

Most people will be happy to explain and answer questions (although if they’re not, don’t take it personally – they’re probably just having a bad day), and you’ll be able to feel like a part of the team if you can follow what’s going on.

Another thing that you should try and do is to talk to as many people as you can because this will allow you to better understand the different perspectives and expectations concerning your particular work environment.

You may find that staff moan about their job to you, but don’t be put off too easily. Speaking to people is also just a good way of understanding them better: something that’s always rewarding.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and that’s okay. Cancellations happen, doctors ignore you, and patients can be rude, but the point is to stick it through and opportunities will eventually come your way. This may be in the form of an exceptionally nice junior doctor who takes you under their wing, or an interesting procedure that you might be allowed to watch. If you are not around when interesting things happen, you’ll be the one missing out! 

Be flexible and try to make the most of what you do get to see because that’s how you’ll end up having the most fun.

If you’re still feeling lost during work experience, our article that covers this is the article for you.

Reflect

After work experience, students think they will come away from it with a strong opinion in mind. However, when your work experience lasts a couple of weeks, this doesn’t come so naturally.

Sometimes days can blur into one another and you end up finishing it slightly dazed and exhausted. Here’s where writing down your feelings can help, because these opinions you form need to be explicit enough to get you through future personal statements and interviews and will come in handy whether or not you choose to apply to medical school. 

Beyond practical advantages, thinking about memorable events and analysing why they made you feel a certain way will help you grow into a more self-aware, observant person, which is something that you’ll never learn by reading a book. 

Observing how different people interact, especially in a professional setting, also offers you the chance to pick up teamwork and problem-solving skills – things that will come in handy as they are pretty much universal no matter what your future work environment should be. As a bonus, you’ll feel like you have taken away something tangible from your time spent there, and you will glow with the satisfaction of productivity. Learn how to demonstrate your reflections to Admissions Tutors effectively in our One-Day Personal Statement Crash Course

Summary

Plan ahead

Do a bit of homework–it’ll go a long way.

Ask Questions 

Be brave and be flexible.

Reflect

The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

Work experience may give you a glimpse into a possibility, but ultimately, it’s only a taste of what a particular area of medicine is like. 

Hopefully, your reflections will give you some insight into areas that you enjoyed that may be unique to medicine, or it may show you areas in medicine which you think you can change for the better. Or your reflections may suggest that medicine isn’t right for you, despite what you initially thought.

Remember that there is a multitude of factors that go towards the decision to apply to medical school and that work experience is only one part of it. It takes time and energy to know something well enough to commit, and how much you gain from your experience will largely be determined by how much you put into it. So keep an open mind, avoid rushing into anything, and try to have fun along the way.

MEDICINE MASTERY BUNDLE

Not sure where to start with your Medical School application?

Get full, comprehensive support for your medical school application with 6med’s Medicine Mastery Bundle. Access everything you need for success as soon as you sign up. 

MMI Crash Course

MMI Crash Course

Not sure where to start with your Medical School application?

Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT and Interview and guides you to a successful application.

With our Complete Bundle, we guarantee that you will get at least one offer to study Medicine, or your money back.

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