Updated: Oct 10, 2018

“Experience is the teacher of all things” – Julius Caesar 

Work experience is an important part of your application when applying to Medical School, merely being  a high academic achiever is not enough anymore. Medicine combines science with humanity, having a love for one and not the other makes it a very difficult career to go into and enjoy. Due to the demanding, rigorous nature of the course, when deciding to study Medicine it is extremely important to go into it with realistic perspective of what a career in medicine entails which can only be gained through relevant experience in a healthcare setting or working with other people in a caring or service role. It is crucial that you demonstrate that you are a well rounded individual who has thoroughly thought about their reasons for wanting to be a doctor.


  • To develop and refine some of the attitudes and behaviours essential to being a doctor such as Confidence, Empathy, Compassion, Leader, Forthright, Respectful, Thorough, Inquisitive and Team Player.

  • To gain a realistic understanding of Medicine and the physical, organisational and emotional demands of a medical career

  • To gain experience providing care or help to other people understanding the realities of working in a caring profession

  • To help you decide whether medicine is the career for you

  • To demonstrate your commitment to medicine


  1. Clinical Work Experience 

UK:There is no specific requirement of a particular type of work experience done, neither is there a specific number of hours done. However engaging in a particular form of work experience for an extended period of time shows commitment to Medicine particularly in the 2 years before your application is submitted. Any form of work experience is deemed acceptable if it reflects the purposes of work experience stated above. Clinical work experience (e.g. shadowing a GP, hospital placement) is great at demonstrating the doctor patient relationship,  you can also learn about how the hospital is run and see what happens on medical wards but requires you to display maturity and professionalism. 

Abroad:Clinical work experience gained overseas is great as it allows you to observe the difference between healthcare systems in different countries. However  Medical schools do not generally support or encourage overseas clinical work experience. Medical schools are looking for applicants who have a sound  understanding of the UK healthcare system this may be by undertaking clinical work experience or by talking to UK doctors. However, if you have elected to arrange clinical work experience abroad this should be justified in your personal statement. Gap Medicsoffers International Medical work experience.

      2. Volunteering

There is a range of voluntary work that is available in a number of different sectors including the health service and can provide helpful work experience. Voluntary commitments to community groups (for example religious groups or other groups such as Scouts or Guides) may also provide valuable experience of taking on responsibility, dealing with people and communicating effectively. Volunteering in a care setting (Hospice; Youth Club; Disability centres; Elderly People’s Home or Care centre) is a great way to develop empathy and is a really good way to improve your communication skills which is extremely useful for medical school. Caring for the elderly is also excellent experience even though this can often be challenging, as you may need to deal with patients with dementia, hearing loss and physical disability. However, it is also extremely rewarding and an eye-opening experience.

    3. Paid Work

Paid employment may provide valuable work experience, especially where it involves extensive inte