In GP practices, you will hopefully spend time sitting in on doctors’ consultations and on home visits. You will encounter patients of all ages and backgrounds and see a wide range of medical conditions. However, be prepared that not all patients will be comfortable with you sitting in on their appointment – you may be asked to briefly step outside. A great tip is to make a note at the end of each day of any interesting patients you have seen, so that you can further research their condition. This is ideal material for the Personal Statement and interviews, but always remember to maintain confidentiality and anonymise patients.
Participating in a home visit is also a great learning opportunity, as treating patients in their own home is very different to doing so in a clinical setting. GPs are extremely busy and may not have much time to teach and educate you. However, if possible, ask the GP whether they could arrange for you to speak to any interesting patients – for example, a patient with a chronic disease. This will not only teach you about living with a disease and how this affects the patient on a daily basis, but will also allow you to learn the patient’s thoughts on their interaction with NHS services (and any good and bad experiences). This is useful not only for your application but also for learning about how you want your patients to perceive you when you become a doctor.
You may also spend time shadowing a nurse or health care assistant – which is very useful, as it shows the importance of allied health professionals working together in a multi-disciplinary team for the best outcome of the patient. Many students often also spend time in reception. Use this as a great opportunity to improve your communication and organisational skills.
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During your hospital work experience, you should try to get as much variety as possible. A placement is a opportunity to learn what a ward round is like and to shadow a doctor.
GP practices, hospitals and hospices are all fantastic places to carry out medical work experience. It is essential to be committed and dedicated during your placement.
The amount of work experience students will have is limited by practicalities; your experience will be predominantly limited to your holidays from school, and placement availability