Monday, 18 May 2015

Work Experience

I've had a lot of questions about work experience needed for medicine so thought I'd do a quick post about it.

Most med school open days will give you some indication of how highly they view work experience/volunteering in their application process but sometimes it can be difficult to tell how much you really need.

First of all, I would say that quality over quantity definitely applies here! No matter how much experience you get, if you have nothing to say about it at interview it is useless. 

When I first started voluteering (I probably fall into the too much volunteering category), I had something on every day of the week - scouts, buddy reading, care home help, stroke club etc - and used to attend and participate enthusiastically BUT I never really thought about what I was doing or what I was learning! BIG MISTAKE! It was only once I started reading interview prep books (which I highly recommend) that I realised I needed to be able to apply my volunteering and work experience to my answers.
A good tip I got from someone is to keep a mini diary - each time you go to your volunteering or work expereince sit for a few minutes afterwards and think about what you did. Jot down anything important. If you had a leadership role that day, write about it! If you had to deal with a difficult situation, write about that! Anything that you can talk about in interview, make a note of it! It will save you a lot of time and effort later on :) 

In terms of how much to do and what stuff to do- it really is a personal choice! 
Personally I think its great if you have something continuous for a longer period of time to show dedication. So for example I helped at a care home only around twice a month but did it for four years. Anything longer than a few months helps to show that you arent just doing it to look good on your application, but because you genuinely want to be involved! 
A variety of experience will be beneficial for future experiences with patients, but if all of your experience focuses on one thing (such a children) then this is also fine. Especially if you want to go into paeds! :) 

At the end if the day, you're going to learn a lot more from something you enjoy and are passionate about than something you view as a chore or a means to an end! Make the most of it and learn as much as you can about yourself and others from it.

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