A big factor of getting into medical school is having work experience. It’s required my most (if not all) medical schools as a way to show your commitment and drive to study medicine. But finding work experience can be hard whether you are just starting out, or whether you are trying to find something different to make you stand out from other candidates.
There are various kinds of work experience which can be used when applying. From volunteering at homeless shelters to working part time at a cafe. There are no extra points for having shadowed a top cardiothoracic surgeon in sub-Saharan Africa unless you can say what you learnt from the experience and how it has demonstrated your dedication to medicine. For this reason, don’t stress too much about the type of experience you have. As long as you have been able to enhance your skills, while learning about how to deal with people/life as a doctor/qualities needed to succeed in medicine then you stand a good chance.
You don’t want to rhyme off a long list of things you have done but instead, reflect on the experiences. The medical schools aren’t looking for who has the most things to write about but instead what you were able to learn.
Trying to find any form of voluntary or shadowing work can seem tricky, but the key is applying early and speaking to as many people as possible. Look out for advertisements of positions available via your local community, on social media and in your school/college/university. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s placement in a private hospital organised through my college, where I spent 6 days working with doctors and nurses in various parts of the hospital, including a day with the MRI scanner, and (my favourite) two days in surgery! This is something that would have been difficult to organise on my own but with help from college, I had the best week seeing first hand how private healthcare differs to care provided by the NHS.
Work experience is a fantastic opportunity to learn about a career in medicine. While it may seem like a long process to organise, once you start I can assure you that you won’t ever want to stop!!