5 Reasons why summer is perfect for your medical work experience

5 Reasons why summer is perfect for your medical work experience

Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
April 23, 2021

When to do your medical work experience?

Medicine is highly competitive, and it’s essential you make the most out of your summer before writing your personal statement and preparing for interviews. 

While you do need to relax before your final year and the stress of A-levels, the summer is an excellent opportunity to get as much work experience as possible.

In this article, I will cover the different reasons for which summer is perfect for your work experience. It’s a really good idea to try and arrange your work experience as far in advance as you can. This means that you will have the most choice about where you can do it, and also the dates in the summer that suit you. 

Be sure to check out our other articles on the website, which look at how to arrange your work experience, which questions to ask and how you can try and get the most out of it.


No college or high-school commitments

Summer is great for intense in-person courses since you do not have your usual college or high-school commitments, which, rightly so, can be very intense and time-consuming, meaning you have more free time.


Less workload=more focus

By organising your experience to be in the summer, you can ensure that you can arrange any work you have to do for school/college for a different week to your experience, as there’s more than enough time to fit it all in.

Also, because your evenings won’t be filled with the usual homework and revision, you have enough time to read up beforehand on what you might be experiencing on placement. That way, you will have pre-formed questions and hone in on the things that are particularly relevant or interesting to the speciality you are in.


More time for instant reflection

Furthermore, it’s always best to reflect on your work experience as it is happening. This way, the reflections are still fresh, and you have time to discuss any thoughts or ideas you have with your supervisor before you leave.

It’s a really good idea to do this if you want to develop a strong personal statement and good answers for your medical school interviews. 

Pro tip: watch this webinar recording to see how to reflect on your work experience and download the free Medical Projects reflection template.

Hospital Work Experience, Now Online!

Ad-hoc evening experience

During term time, you may not be able to seize all the opportunities, and you may miss out on really valuable experiences. 

For example, whilst on your placement, you may have the opportunity to stay late and experience an on-call shift with a doctor. Or you may stay late and see a really interesting or even emergency surgery, be able to do an evening home visit with a GP, or be asked if you’d like to shadow another member of the health professions team. 

If you arrange to do your work experience during the summer, you’re more likely to have the time to experience these exciting opportunities. And they could help build your understanding and insight into the world of Medicine and boost your Medicine application significantly.


More opportunities to expand on your work experience

Indeed, if you have enjoyed your time there and have spent enough time to build a good rapport with the staff, you may be able even to arrange more time doing work experience there or even get yourself a job (e.g. as a secretary for a GP). 

Again, these further opportunities would be great for you to be able to reflect on in your personal statement and for you to be able to discuss further down the line in your interviews.


The pressure on the NHS

As a general rule, the NHS and healthcare system is usually less stressed and under less pressure during summer. They won’t be experiencing the flu season and increased falls due to the ice that happens a lot during the winter months. 

This means that if you arrange your work experience for the summer holiday instead of a winter holiday, the doctors may have a bit more time for you. They will be able to talk through your questions, things you might be seeing, and advise on things like applying to medical schools, different types of courses and their experiences, personal statements, and interviews.

The same applies to other healthcare professionals. You may have a better chance of seeing something like a nurse-led clinic or a speech and language therapy assessment, which would all be very interesting to see and reflect on. 


Your last chance in the summer between year 12 and year 13

Your summer holidays may also be your last chance to get some work experience if you are in the summer between year 12 and year 13.

You need to get some work experience for your personal statement and for interviews. If you have left it this late, be sure to have at least 1 day of experience arranged so that you have something to write and reflect on before the October deadline for applications. 


Time to reflect and decide what you want to do next

On the other hand, the summer holiday can also be great timing if you’re in the summer holiday between Year 11 and year 12. You have a lot of time to reflect and build your experiences into your personal statement.

It also means you have more time to arrange and build in further experiences either at the same place or in a different area/speciality. This extra time is especially valuable if you are unsure of applying to Medicine or feel you want a broader range of experiences to talk about in your personal statement. 


The timing of your birthday

Usually, you can only undertake work experience when you are already 16 years old. I understand that having a summer birthday (especially if it’s towards the middle/end of August) may mean that hospitals won’t or can’t accommodate you for experience when you finally turn 16 due to pressures and availability of staff etc.

If this is the case for you, don’t fret, you still have more than enough time to arrange your experience for the following summer.


Life after COVID?

Finally, hopefully, hospitals are more likely to be open for school/college students again as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease. Fingers crossed this will be by the summer, making this summer holiday coming the perfect time to organise your work experience.

If you haven’t arranged your summer work experience yet, check out our Medical Summer School. This 5-day medical work experience includes 3 days in one of the best London hospitals, UCAT and BMAT preparation, mock interviews and much more!

Medical Summer School – London

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