Summer Work Experience For Medics – How To Ramp Up Your All-Important Applications

When you’re considering your future career as an MD, what’s the biggest factor that will likely contribute to you landing a place at that college, or even scoring your dream residency?

Could it be how long you kept your head in a book? Well, clocking up the hours in the library certainly helps! Will it be your bedside manner? Fortunately, this is something you can hone during your ward rounds, as you gain more and more exposure with the patients in your care.

What about what extracurricular activities you committed yourself to during the summer break? That could certainly be a factor – bear with me, here!

The short answer is relevant, educational and vocational experience: both fantastic grades as well as being able to show dedication to the field you’re interested in. The power couple of good grades (or, moreso, a good degree) and strong extracurricular experience can get you very far – as you’ll know from both your college and med school applications.

For both pre-meds, and those anticipating their college days with a keen interest in medicine, the perfect time to build up your relevant experience is during the long summer break. Yes, of course this is a time to wind down, but why not build up a bank of solid, relevant work experience hours?

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We’ve pulled together our top tips for gaining relevant work experience for any medicine-based career: whether you’re a highschool graduate interested in pursuing a healthcare career or a med-student looking to pad your your resume!

  • Volunteering at big events, such as music festivals, in their first-aid or wellness tents is a particularly good way to test your skills as well as clock up some valuable hours. Festival first-aid tents soon fill up with bruised and boozed revellers, so if you’re interested in emergency medicine, this might be a great place to volunteer and learn. Many music festivals also offer free passes for volunteers in exchange for some hours on the ground, so it’s a win-win situation!
  • If you’re interested in elderly care, many care homes require companionship volunteers for the elderly residents. You simply commit to a few hours a week visiting with the residents, chatting to them and helping with small tasks. You’ll also get to learn from the care home staff from a medical perspective – sadly, care homes don’t often represent the epitome of general health. This is also provides a very kind, meaningful gesture to older people in your local community.
  • Volunteering within a hospice (particularly beneficial for those interested in palliative care and improving or developing bedside manner) is an eye opening and moving experience. Hospices often require kind but emotionally resilient individuals to provide valuable end of life companionship to the terminally ill.
  • Writing! Opinion articles, blog posts and news stories that are relevant to your field of medical interest are great additions to a resume, as well as helping you hone your research and analysis skills. If you can find a specialist blog that suits your interests, it’s a great way to show diversity to your interests, or even better: start one of your own!
  • Medical internships, of course, are the most obvious way to gain relevant experience. Of course it’s best to organise this with your university in order to do this properly and get the most out of it, but if you can secure yourself a few weeks shadowing in an ER or on the wards, it’ll teach you more than you’d possibly imagine – especially if it’s a different setting to what you’re used to! Work the World offer medical internships for those on clinical degrees – in low-resource settings in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America – a great excuse to both learn about a new healthcare system and to get some world-travelling in over the summer, too!

And don’t forget to keep a logbook of all your relevant experience and what you learnt for future applications and resumes, as well as a relevant and willing referee. As Albert Einstein said, “the only source of knowledge is experience”, and we couldn’t agree more.

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