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Work Experience

Most medical & dental schools require you to have some relevant work experience; because it’s so competitive this is now almost compulsory. Without it, you will significantly reduce your chances. This should be in a health related field or any ‘caring’ setting.

Hospital Experience

It is not easy to secure work experience in a hospital, shadowing doctors, due to concerns about patient confidentiality, however you should try. Write to all your local hospitals (there is often a work experience manager) as well as your local GP.

Contact as many as you can in order to secure some work placements:

  • NHS general practice
  • Private general practice
  • Community general practice (SPDCS)
  • Dental school/hospital
  • Maxillofacial department
  • Orthodontist

Most, if not all hospitals have a team of volunteers to help both staff and patients. Volunteers’ help with refreshments, show people where to go, keep patients company and provide practical support for the staff. Through this type of work, you can learn about how hospitals run and see what happens on medical wards. You can also spend lots of time with patients in a caring or supportive role, which is ideal for anyone applying to medical school. Here is a list of all NHS Trusts.

You may also find work experience through Premed Projects. They arrange 1 week work experience in Uk hospitals. They offer placements in London, Bristol and Leeds, where you will shadow doctors across a variety of departments for 28 hours in total. You stay for a week in a Premed Project House. Placements take place in the school holidays. 3 times per week you will also receive a lecture. The week is chargeable at £790-£860. This includes your accomodation and meals as well as the hospital visits.

Work Experience - Veterinary Medicine

All the veterinary schools expect some pre-application work experience in a variety of fields - farms, stables, kennels or with vets. The RVC specifies that this must total at least four weeks, while Liverpool specifies a minimum of 10 weeks.

Work Experience is essential in strengthening your application and you should do everything you can to secure hands on animal work. This could be in vets, pet shops, farms, kennels, zoos, rescue centres, catteries, stables, RSPCA, RSPB, PDSA and other animal charities and welfare organisations such as Blue Cross. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association ( has many links to animal welfare sites. Particularly useful would be to help out on a farm during lambing. Take notes about some of the cases you see. Even try abattoirs, labs and racetracks. Unfortunately there is no easy way to secure these placements apart from locating them through the internet and yellow pages and then ringing them or visiting them. Ensure you obtain references from your placements.

In your summer holidays also check out overseas veterinary placements - for example WVS (Worldwide Veterinary service) offer a number.

There are about 60 zoos, and 100 wild animal collections in the UK. Go to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums for a full list by area.

Companion Care Vets have about 90 surgeries across the UK and offer work experience to students in full time education.


Here is a selection:

  • Gap Medics – offers placements working in a hospital shadowing doctors or dentists in India, Tanzania, Thailand and St Lucia in Caribbean
  • Medical Projects - they run overseas hospotal work experience in medicine, midwifery and nursing in India, Ghana and Romania
  • Global volunteer projects and global medical projects– offers placements in hospitals in India, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Mexico and Tanzania
  • Projects Abroad – work in hospitals in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Romania, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Togo
  • Learn Overseas – 2 week work experience in Delhi
  • Latitude Global Volunteering – has links with British Red Cross Hospitals in Japan where roles such as care assistants and medical assistants are available
  • Project Trust - get involved with their social care programmes – looking after neglected or orphaned children in care homes. Opportunities are available in Africa, America and Asia.


Hospice Volunteering

Hospices provide care for patients who are terminally ill. Many hospices rely heavily on volunteers to help with their work. This might involve helping with meal times, patient transport or day trips.

Health Care Assistant

There are also several paid jobs that you can do that don't require much prior training or experience. For example, you can work as a health care assistant (HCA), support worker, phlebotomist or hospital porter, all of which will give you excellent experience working with patients. Getting this type of job is particularly useful if you are taking a gap year (and you don't want to go abroad) or if you are going into medicine as a mature student. You can also work part time in many of these jobs. To get this type of work, look in the local paper, contact your local hospital, look for local nursing agencies or try the NHS jobs site.

Caring For Elderly

Caring for the elderly is also excellent experience for would-be doctors. This can often be challenging, as you may need to deal with patients with dementia, hearing loss and physical disability. The best way to search for this type of voluntary work is to look for your local nursing home or rest home and write to them, explaining why you would like to volunteer. Try the yellow pages website as a starting point


There are lots of opportunities to work with organisations providing telephone counselling and support. Examples include Childline, who help children in distress, The Samaritans who offer support to adults in crisis and Saneline, who offer advice and counselling to people affected by mental illness.


Working With Children

Working with children is another way to gain relevant experience for medical school. Learning how to communicate with kids is really useful, particularly if you are interested in being a GP or paediatrician. There are a number of ways to get involved; Barnados play schemes, Over the Wall and Camp activity all run activity weeks for kids with serious illness. Working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults in the UK is likely to involve you undergoing some form of personal screening.

Also try The Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance as well as local charity shops or youth centres. If you can obtain work over a consistent period of time (e.g. one afternoon for 6 months), this looks better than a week done in the holidays. This demonstrates commitment, interest and effort. Any type of volunteering will be beneficial. Participatory work experience (i.e. hands on rather than just observing) is the most valuable.

Here is a selection of volunteering sites that may help you:


There are also courses that you can attend, some run by the hospitals themselves. E.g. Royal Berkshire NHS trust runs ‘Introduction to Medicine’ course, Imperial run ‘The Premed Course’ and The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital runs ‘So You Want to do Medicine?’ There are also external organisations (chargeable) that run similar events eg Medi-quest and The Debate Chamber runs The Medicine Summer School, 3 days at London University. (cost is £250) covers subjects such as Neurology, cardiology, trauma, radiology, haematology, pulmonary and ethics.

Work Experience - Dental Students

With regard dentistry, you generally need at least 2 weeks work experience in a dental surgery. You should approach the following and endeavour to get a mix of work experience. Contact as many as you can in order to secure some work placements.

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