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.
A series of free interactive videos created by the Royal College of General
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…
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:
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)
Follow medical news
The Medical Schools Council recommend getting your health / medicine news from the following sites:
Listen to podcasts
Study online courses
Listen to TED Talks & read their blogs
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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You might also be interested in my article 6 Books to Read Before Your Medical School Interview.