I get a lot of questions about the sort of work experience that is necessary to help build a successful medical school application. There are a variety of different ways that you can prove a commitment to medicine and science, and the development of characteristics necessary to make a good doctor. Below are a few ideas that I think could help you with this, and certainly helped with my application!
1. Hospital work: This is fairly obvious, but it is important to try and get some sort of shadowing experience in a hospital. Particularly because, when applying for a degree that can last up to 6 years, it’s important to prove to yourself, and to the universities you’re are applying to, that you understand what you are committing to. During your time in a hospital, try to get some exposure to as many different specialities as possible, so you can get some idea of the variety within medicine.
2. Volunteering: Volunteering at somewhere like an old people’s home, or a hospice, is a great way of demonstrating you possess the empathy and selflessness needed to be a good doctor. These are great places to gain experience, as you are often given a lot more responsibility, and there is more scope for long term involvement; I volunteered at a local home for two years.
3. Tutoring/mentoring: Leadership, reliability and a passion for education, are characteristics expected of a doctor, and can be displayed by taking it upon yourself to teach younger students. It’s a great way of showing your commitment to helping others, and ability to undertake responsibility, while making a little money as well!
4. Research: When applying to a university that offers an intercalated medical degree, it’s important to show a dedication to science. A great way of doing this, is to get involved with some research. You can do this by contacting professors, or researchers, at local universities, involved in areas you are interested in. I shadowed a PhD student, working in cognitive neuroscience, over one on my summer holidays, and really enjoyed the experience.
This may seem like a long list, but do not worry if you feel like you can’t manage everything! So long as you feel that your extra-curricular activities show that you are developing the skills and characteristics that will help you be a good doctor, you’re on the right track!