How To Arrange Work Experience Abroad

Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists

Any aspiring medic is aware that organizing work experience is crucial to their application. At every step of the way, from personal statement to interview, your shadowing in a healthcare environment will be reviewed; the skills you have learnt and the experiences you have had are expected to shape the way you think about medicine. Being able to go abroad for your work experience is a privilege; this is often not required by universities, but it can be an incredible opportunity to experience a different healthcare system and culture. It can also be plenty of fun!
Here are a few tips if you’re thinking about organising work experience abroad and don’t know where to start.

Plan in advance and do plenty of research

Arranging work experience abroad requires plenty of time and searching through the internet for the ideal experience. You need to keep a written record of the organizations you look at, what kind of experience they offer, where and when. 

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When to go?

Ideally, you should go on your work experience placement abroad as soon as you can: you could leave as early as during the summer after you achieve your GCSEs. However, this is not always possible, and some people might not even want to embark on such an experience if they’re not sure they want to go into Medicine. It is perfectly acceptable to go on a summer project during the same summer of your UCAT preparation (before the beginning of your last day of high school/college), as long as you set aside time for prepping this crucial examination. Some projects also run during the Winter or Easter holidays, in case you wanted to move it forward by a few months; these tend to be cheaper, too!

​Where to go?

There aren’t any limitations about where to go on your work experience abroad. Make sure you choose somewhere safe and that you look at visa information well in advance as it can be a lengthy process. Some organizations will offer to do all the required paperwork for you, making the process much easier. Some others will exclude flights, so take this into account when thinking about you budget.

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Which association/organization?

This is the most challenging part of your ‘work experience’ abroad journey. There are so many organizations on the internet that promise incredible experiences, with volunteering opportunities and incredible trips included. You need to choose what works for you, but you should know that ultimately the shadowing experience will be up to how keen you are to learn. You will have the option to network, liaise with healthcare professionals, ask to scrub in and get as involved as you would like – obviously, within the limits of the regulations of that specific country.

Finances and fundraising

With fees often at >£800 a week, work experience abroad is not the most financially accessible experience. If you are unable to join because of the price, you could consider fundraising. With time on your hands you can come up with many exciting ways of funding your trip (e.g. bake-sales, runs…).


Once you’ve booked your placement, keep a checklist of everything else that needs addressing prior to traveling. Make sure you have appropriate insurance, visa, flights, transport from the airport to your accommodation and back – often the organization can help in finding trustworthy providers of transport that they endorse. Insurance tip: make sure you purchase one that is valid for the “higher risk environment” you will be attending: not all cover hospital placements, and the same is true for visas. This is completely dependent on the country you will be working in.

On placement

During your work experience, make sure to be proactive and to grab every opportunity you have to learn. Don’t forget to explore the country you are in, if you get a chance, and maybe try and get involved in some volunteering in your spare time, too. Keeping a diary can be incredibly useful if you want to reflect later on the skills you have gained and the things you have seen.
Make sure you choose something that you feel safe and confident embarking on! Best of luck with your work experience abroad.

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How To Arrange Work Experience Abroad

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