How To Reflect on Work Experience for Medical School Interviews?
The single most important action to take regarding your work experience is a thorough reflection! This will ensure you squeeze all the important lessons from this invaluable experience and are fully prepared to handle questions on the topic at the interview!
By the end of this blog, you will understand exactly what is meant by reflection, why it is important and how you can do it!
What is reflection?
Reflection is the process of analysing a situation and asking questions in order to learn from it. In relation to medical work experience, this is with an aim of identifying relevant insights into the medicine gained from the experience.
Why is reflection important?
In a typical work experience placement, you will move from one experience to the next. Perhaps starting the day by seeing patients in the clinic before moving to home visits with the GP and finishing the day shadowing a pharmacist. Each experience will present its own opportunity to gain new knowledge, insights and skills. Without proper reflection, many of these experiences will have no lasting impact. The quote below captures the importance of reflection.
"We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey
How can I reflect on my work experience?
Reflecting properly can seem like an abstract task, asking the correct questions about an experience is essential to yield the correct answers. We recommend using the Borton reflective model as a starting point. This involves asking three questions about a situation:
Reflection in practice: an example case
During my own work experience, I had the privilege of attending a home visit to see an elderly patient who was, unfortunately, nearing the end of their life. On reflection, this experience yielded many important lessons - using the Borton model as an example:
I attended a home visit for a patient nearing the end of their lives where the GP provided treatment.
This interaction was significant because it helped me appreciate how important the non-academic qualities of a doctor are (clear communication, empathy and professionalism), I can also appreciate how emotionally difficult some encounters witnessed in medicine can be.
What insights have I gained? As a result of this situation I appreciate medicine as a socially applied biological science which at its best provides holistic patient care. Moving forwards into my medical school career, I will ensure to consider both the physical and psychological/ emotional needs of my patients.
Hopefully, this example demonstrates how to use this tool in practice when thinking about your own medical work experience! Do this process for a variety of examples so that you have all bases covered when it comes to possible interview questions!
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