Work experience – the key showing you understand and are passionate about healthcare in your personal statement. However, unless you are fortunate enough to have a family member or family friend who is a doctor at a local hospital, many of you will struggle to organise hospital based placements. But, do not despair, there are many other types of work experience that you can organise to discuss in your personal statement. Here’s a quick guide to the hierarchy of work experience and what you can gain from each type.
This is the type of work experience that every wannabe medical student dreams of. Going to a hospital to attend ward rounds, clinics and operating theatres is what everyone thinks of when they describe medical work experience. Many think this is the most valuable type of work experience and it should be the one you try the most to get. You are able to see numerous patients, talk to doctors about the profession and learn some basic medical sciences – all great things to discuss in your personal statement.
Of similar value to hospital placements are placements at GP surgeries. These have the same benefits as hospital placements with regards to seeing patients, hearing about the NHS from doctors and gaining a greater understanding of how the systems link together. However, it can be difficult to see patients at GP placements and some GP surgeries are apprehensive to allow students in during consultations. But, you can still help out and see how a GP surgery runs without seeing patients – this is still a valuable experience.
Physiotherapy placements and Pharmacy placements
These are definitely not as valuable as the above placements, but can still be useful, especially if you are struggling to get others. These placements are often a great experience to hear about patients’ stories and how they are coping with their illnesses. Physiotherapy placements can be a great chance to learn about patients’ experiences of their injuries and the effect these have on their lives. Pharmacy placements can be a chance to talk to people collecting their prescriptions and learn about the common drugs and their actions from pharmacists. However, I feel that a day or two of these placements is enough time to see how these aspects of the healthcare system function.
Nursing Home Volunteer Work
These are great longer-term placements to experience a large aspect of the healthcare system. You can talk to people, hear about their experiences and gain a greater understanding of how social care functions in parallel with the hospital and GP care. This is a great placement to give up an hour of two a week to volunteer at a nursing home to talk to residents and play cards or board games with them. It also shows you have the necessary compassion of a future doctor – something that is very hard to believably convey in a personal statement.
So, there you have it, a quick rundown of the different types of work experience that are worth discussing in your personal statement. Try to organise as many of these as you can, spend time talking to patients/residents and reflect on them in your personal statement. Best of luck everyone!