Work Experience For Medical School?! What You Actually Need To Know!

Hello hello!


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.

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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!

Frequently Asked Questions!

Hi Guys, This video is collection of a few of the questions that I get asked regularly, about being a medical student, at the University of Cambridge. I thought it would be more efficient to answer them in one go, instead of sending the same reply individually. Hopefully this is useful, if there are any questions I’ve missed out, post them below!

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Medical School | Cambridge University

Hi Guys! This video is about 5 things I wish I’d known before I started University. The fact that I’m at medical school, puts a bit of a unique spin on it. Hopefully this gives those of you thinking about applying to medical school, some idea of what it’s like here!

If you have any questions, please comment below, and I’ll get back to you, as soon as possible!

Vlog | Day In The Life Of A Cambridge Medical Student | General Practice

Hi Guys! I thought I’d try something new, and vlog for a day! I’m a bit worried about how helpful/fun this will be, as I can’t film in certain buildings, to protect patient privacy. But hopefully (!!!) this video gives you some insight into what goes on in a General Practice placement.

Let me know if you enjoy it, and would like to see some more examples of different days, in different placements!

How To Pick the Right Medical School?

In the UK, there are a multitude of medical schools, each with unique selling points (and drawbacks!) This can make it hard to select just four, for your UCAS application. When it came to picking the universities I applied to, here are a few things I considered.

  1. Entrance exams: when it came to picking the universities I applied to, one thing that became immediately obvious, was the split between BMAT and UKCAT universities. I quickly realised that I wasn’t ready to add preparation for two entrance examinations, to my already very large workload. I decided to only take one, the BMAT, which quickly narrowed down my choices.
  2. Location: This isn’t the most important criterion, but I personally felt that I didn’t want to travel too far from home. I had always dreamed of living in London, and also liked that Cambridge wasn’t miles away (around two hour in a car), so focused on universities in these areas.
  3. Opportunity to intercalate: I had always like science, and loved the idea of being able to work towards a separate bachelors degree, while studying for medicine. I wanted to go to a university where, not only, was there the option to intercalate, but that most of the students, if not all, did. I wasn’t too keen on being left behind by the rest of my classmates, so chose universities where this was common.
  4. Traditional course: When I initially started looking at medical schools, I really liked the look of the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) course, as it seemed to be very hands on, and have a clinical focus, from the very beginning. However after speaking to my father (who is also a doctor), I quickly realised that, perhaps, a more traditional course, with basic science to begin with, followed by more clinical teaching, would suit me more. It’s important to consider the way that you learn, and the kind of doctor you want to be, particularly with regards to research, in order to work out which of these approaches, is right for you.
  5. Dissection: I decided very early on that I probably wanted to be a surgeon. Therefore, the focus anatomy teaching, particularly the opportunity to learn from dissection, as opposed to prosections, was very important to me. Again, this is something that very few universities offered, helping to narrow my choices.
  6. Where I felt most at home: This was the most important factor of deciding where I applied. Medicine is a long degree, so it’s important to pick a university that you can see yourself loving for a long time. This was the ultimate deciding point for me, and the reason that I chose to apply to only 3 universities. Make sure you go to open days, and meet as many students and lecturers, as you can, at the universities you’re considering.

These are just a few of things that helped me decided where I would apply. Hopefully they help you! If there are other points that you have considered, let me know in the comments below!