How to Get FREE Medical Work Experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Last updated: February 2021
First published: June 2020

In the time of COVID-19, understandably a lot of aspiring medics are worried about acquiring suitable work experience. The good news is that everybody is in the same boat and medical schools know that it’s far harder to get work experience right now.

The bad news is that you may not know how to get work experience because some of the usual ways of getting it have gone out the window.

In this blog post I share some ideas of what you can do instead, starting with two virtual (and free!) medical work experiences recommended by the Medical Schools Council.

Don’t forget to record everything you do in a reflective diary. Write down what you did or observed, what you learnt or felt and reflect it back to your suitability or understanding of a future career as a doctor. Also note if there’s anything you’ll now do differently (e.g. behaviour in certain situations) as a result of your work experiences.




 

Observe GP

A series of free interactive videos created by the Royal College of General
Practitioners (RCGP).

You’ll learn about being a GP and the wider primary care team.

Register here: rcgp.org.uk/training-exams.aspx

Brighton & Sussex Medical School’s Virtual Work Experience

Get an introduction to the NHS and how it works. You’ll also learn about the skills & roles of 6 medical specialists and gain insight into challenges & wider issues faced by doctors.

Register here: bsmsoutreach.thinkific.com/courses/VWE


Whether or not you are able to register for either Observe GP or BSMS’s virtual work experiences, also look into the following to help build your application…


Paid work

The most obvious options right now are to work as a COVID-19 vaccinator or tester. Paid roles can be found via the NHS Jobs (tester or vaccinator) and NHS Professionals (vaccinator) websites. It’s also possible to volunteer as a vaccinator – more info on that in the next section of this blog post.

Pandemic or not, excellent paid roles for work experience include being a healthcare assistant or theatre circulating assistant. Healthcare assistants mostly help care for patients on wards e.g. helping patients wash and changing their bedding. Theatre circulating assistants help out in surgical theatres, working outside of the sterile field and have duties such as cleaning down theatres post-surgery and handing sterile surgical equipment to scrub nurses using what’s called “asceptic technique”. You can find vacancies for both roles via the NHS Jobs website. It might help to filter for Band 2 and 3 roles using the options on the left-hand side of the search results.

Volunteering from home or locally

The key thing with volunteering is that you’re getting insight into caring for others, developing compassion, empathy and understanding the realities of taking care of others.

The Medical Schools Council recommend the following two sites for finding volunteering:

Do-it.org

Nextdoor.co.uk

But they’re not the only places you’ll find great opportunities. Look also at:

St John’s Ambulance (check out their COVID-19 roles: vaccinator, care volunteer and patient advocate)

COVIDMutualAid.org

The Silver Line

Red Cross

Age UK

Follow medical news

The Medical Schools Council recommend getting your health / medicine news from the following sites:

TheGuardian.com/science 

Telegraph.co.uk/health

BMJOpen.BMJ.com

Listen to podcasts

RCP Medicine

The History of Medicine

BMJ Student (Sharp Scratch)

Study online courses

The NHS Explained (FutureLearn)

And many others! As well as FutureLearn, you could also look for healthcare-related courses on Coursera

Listen to TED Talks & read their blogs

Visit TED.com/topics/health

Use TED to gain an understanding and insight into various issues and hot topics in healthcare.

Read medicine-related books

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

There are many other books you could read to show an interest in medicine but these are the ones that get recommended the most.

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Have some feedback on this article? Did I make an error? Please contact me via the contact page or leave a comment below.

You might also be interested in my article 6 Books to Read Before Your Medical School Interview.

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