The Medicine Personal Statement: Work Experience Paragraph
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All students will need to set out their work experience in their personal statement. Exactly how you do this is up to you. Here, we’ll consider work experience as one section, or paragraph, of the personal statement. Of course, you might wish to weave it through the statement rather than have it as one distinct area. However, keeping sections separate can be safer, and certainly ensures that admissions tutors understand the statement on a quick initial reading.
The Medicine Personal Statement Work Experience Paragraph: Tips
First, the experience itself: excellent candidates for medical school will have two or more different secondary or tertiary work experience placements, one primary care work experience (or more) and some work experience in a voluntary setting as well – often a care home. Additionally, you might wish to secure experience of medical conferences. Remember that whilst it can be difficult to secure work experience, this will be the basis of your personal statement and provide much of the content of your MMIs and interviews as well. As such, you have to work hard to find opportunities here, as these will set you up for success as you move through the process.
Considering how one writes about work experience: you will have seen this written before, but it’s still forgotten by many students – you must ensure that you reflect. You should introduce each piece of experience clearly – what area of healthcare was it in? Then, briefly explain what you saw. Having done this, you now need to reflect – what did you learn about Medicine, or about yourself, through the experience? Can you link it to learning experiences or books that you have read, for example?
Whilst writing, always focus on why you’re including the experience. Think about how you can link each piece of experience to core aspects of Medicine, or to parts of your own narrative for wanting to study the degree.
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Medicine Personal Statement Work Experience: Two Examples Analysed
I received great insight into the primary, secondary and tertiary structure of the NHS through my three work experiences. My GP placement signified to me the importance of their work and the challenges they face relating to increased patient numbers and demands. It was an opportunity to discuss potential solutions and their social and ethical implications, a factor which encouraged me to read “Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction.” Teamwork was a vital theme in my surgery placement, where I witnessed MDT meetings on a departmental, interdepartmental and inter-hospital level. The use of the WHO safety checklist allowed me to reflect on the measures taken by hospitals to minimise errors, a theme I am aware of from reading “The Checklist Manifesto.” In my oncology placement, I saw doctors, with great professionalism and compassion, wade into patients’ emotional melee. The ability to infer the root of patient worry and skilfully tackle it was compelling and I hope to emulate such people-centred care.
Here, the student immediately sets out that they had three separate work experiences, and that they have learnt about different sectors as a result. They ensure that they reflect from the start – they come to realise how difficult it is to deal with increasing patient numbers – and that they then make an effort to follow up with additional learning, reading as a result of the experience. They investigate the importance of teamwork, and show that they’ve had experience of the wider hospital working as well – which makes their experience seem realistic. The final part of the passage is excellently written, and we understand that this experience – of tertiary healthcare – has allowed them to understand the extent to which empathy is crucial for doctors.
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Volunteering at a care home and at Edgware Hospital for 6 months was an enriching experience, teaching me communication with those who have limited understanding of interactions. I also attended a week of work experience at a hospital, where I observed several consultations with an oncologist. Despite the difficulty of certain conversations, the consultant displayed the ability to broach the subject empathetically and act on beneficence. Work experience at two GP clinics highlighted the importance of primary care. Sitting in on a clinic, I grasped risk management strategies using the flu vaccine – the GP explained to patients the priority system for new jabs, in place for people with weakened immune systems.The clarity of dialogue between the GP and patient was paramount to ensure informed consent. These experiences emphasised how patient interaction can influence the reaction to diagnoses and treatments.
This student starts the passage clearly, setting the scene. They provide a brief reflection, before moving on to a longer experience that again touches on empathy. They then move into primary care, and take the time to reflect on wider public health demands here, with mention of how the flu vaccine works. They then take a step back and bring together their different experiences – choosing to focus on patient interaction and how important it is that doctors communicate well.