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  • Writer's pictureCameron Elsworth

Why Do Medical Schools Require Work Experience?

Work experience... in order to study medicine at university, having some work experience is generally a required part of any application!

You may be asking yourself why universities are asking you to go and gain work experience? After all, you'll have plenty of experience throughout the course and many other degrees have no such requirement?

This article will explain the reasons as to why universities ask their applicants to secure work experience and illuminate the benefits of organising your own!

What is Work Experience?

Work experience is an experience designed to give you an insight into a career in medicine. Examples of work experience include: direct shadowing to understand the role of a doctor, volunteering to understand the non-academic qualities needed for medicine or through virtual lectures/ workshops aimed at delivering insights into medicine!

For a detailed blog explaining the direct shadowing work experience requirements set by medical schools please read:

Why Do Medical Schools Require Work Experience?

"Why do you think we ask our applicants to undertake work experience?" is a common interview question - use the lessons from this blog to help you stand out with a sophisticated and balanced answer!

Medical schools want applicants who are certain of their decision to study medicine and have made this decision in a carefully reasoned manner, some of the points that you can mention during your interview are below!

Medicine is a vocational course

A vocational course style is one that is focused on being qualified for a particular job at the end. In the case of medicine, this is a doctor. Other examples include dentistry, physiotherapy and nursing.

Being a vocational degree, medical schools only want students who intend on practicing after graduation. Having work experience will demonstrate that you have reflected on the decision to apply to study medicine, basing your choice on realistic insights and are serious about being a doctor in the future.

Completing a medical degree requires absolute commitment from students

There is no escaping the fact that medicine is a commitment. It is a long degree with even longer training programmes to complete afterwards. Again, the insights gained from work experience are essential to ensuring that students are certain their choice to apply is the right one.

Medicine is emotionally challenging

A career in medicine will expose you to the extremes of human emotion, you will see patients on the best days of their lives as well as the worst days of their lives. The realities of these challenges aren't for everyone, and often we do not know whether this is something we can deal with until experiencing this first hand.

Work experience is a useful tool to expose you to the challenging realities of a career in medicine.

Medicine is massively oversubscribed

With over 28,000 applications for around 7,000 places in 2021, medicine is extremely oversubscribed. Universities can take their pick when selecting students and therefore will only accept the most committed students.


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