Students looking to study Medicine or Dentistry are expected to have completed work shadowing or volunteering experience to support their medical school applications.
Showing evidence of this work experience will come up at various points of your Medical School application process – including your Personal Statement, Transferrable Skills Statement and, of course, your admissions interview. So, making sure you have the right experience is very important.
What kind of experiences do universities expect?
The main purpose of gaining work shadowing or volunteering experience is for you to learn and reflect on the experience in your Medical School applications. It’s also a great way to find out if a career in medicine or dentistry is right for you!
Experiences can vary, but the most common is to observe the work of a doctor or other healthcare professional over a period of time. Normally, we suggest students to complete a minimum of 75 hours of work shadowing – ideally exposed to different medical disciplines.
How do I find a doctor to shadow?
This can be the daunting part, but there are a few good places you can start:
- Do you know any family or friends who are doctors
- Ask your school counsellor if they know of doctors previous students have shadowed in the past
- Contact local hospitals volunteer office to enquire opportunities exist
What can I do if I can’t get work shadowing experience?
Whilst work shadowing is very important, there are other volunteering experiences that can still provide you the opportunity to learn and demonstrate the skills needed for a career in medicine or dentistry. Experiences such as:
- Volunteering in a caring role
- Buddy programmes with children
- Helping under-privileged children
- Volunteer as a Crisis Text Counsellor
Needless to say, if you have done work shadowing experience, it is always good to have some volunteering experience on your CV also. This can only strengthen your application and can go a long way to displaying your commitment to your future career.
Can I do Virtual Work Shadowing or Volunteering Experience?
Particularly in the current COVID-19 pandemic, it may be difficult for you to find work shadowing, or even volunteering, experience that is in person. Many hospitals are not allowing volunteers in, due to the increased risk it poses. However, there are plenty of opportunities to gain relevant experience for your Medical School application online. Here’s some examples:
- Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (virtual work shadowing)
- United Nations Volunteers
Whatever the experience, you want to ensure that you are learning and developing the skills that are required to study medicine or dentistry – skills like:
- Genuine interest in the medical or dentistry profession
- Willingness to learn
- Problem solving
- Dealing with uncertainty
- Managing risk and dealing effectively with problems
- Effective communication
- Empathy and the ability to care for other
- Work under pressure
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will help you to focus your search to ensure that you can demonstrative these skills and qualities when it comes to your university applications.
DIFC Placement Support
Student’s studying the International Foundation Year – Health Science programme with DIFC receive full university placement support during their Foundation studies. This includes
- career and course guidance
- personal statement writing
- interview and entrance exam preparation
These supports will make all the difference when it comes to navigating your way through the admissions process for Medical School, and putting your best foot forward in your application.