It can be difficult to obtain healthcare work experience and you may get turned down along the way, but polite persistence usually pays off! The tips below are designed to support you with ideas about finding work experience and if you click here, you’ll see that non healthcare-related experience can be very valuable too.
There are plenty of healthcare-related settings you might explore to get work experience and many ways to supplement voluntary or paid healthcare work experience with other hugely valuable activities. Some ideas to help you out are included below.
Hospital work experience can be hard to come by, so start by contacting your local NHS trust, where there is likely to be someone responsible for organising placements. Whatever you can get (even if it’s just a day or two shadowing staff) will be invaluable.
Also, use their website to check out any charities that operate within the hospital. As a volunteer, you’re bound to make some all-important contact with staff, patients and their families. And the more time you can commit, the better.
Remember, there may be paid employment available too. It’s always worth asking.
Other healthcare settings
There are plenty of other places where you might get fantastic voluntary or paid work experience in a healthcare-related environment. This list gives you some idea of your options.
Volunteering in a local hospice will give you real insight into palliative care. You will also come to see how important these services are to patients and their families.
Any experience you can get of working with elderly or very ill patients will stand you in good stead. Find out where your local care homes are and get in touch.
Additional Support Needs
Many institutions and charities support children and adults with additional needs. Sometimes they need support with day-to-day activities, sometimes with learning. Either way, you’ll be learning a lot too.
NHS Primary Care
There may be opportunities available at your local NHS Primary Care centres. So why not enquire at all the GP surgeries, dentist surgeries and clinics in your area?
You may also be able to get work experience with NHS or private providers of specialist health services, such as physiotherapy, podiatry, dietetics, chiropody, chiropractic and alternative and/or natural therapies.
The opportunity to observe and question any health practitioner going about his or her daily tasks is invaluable. You can find out what their role involves, what they enjoy, the challenges they face. To get the broadest perspective possible on the world of healthcare, shadow as many people as you can (community nurses, midwives, hospital staff, GPs) and make sure you’re always Making the most of it.
Healthcare and research go hand in hand. So any involvement in this field will strengthen your case when it comes to interviews. Some examples of research could be the following:
Any lab work you do in a medical, health or science-related context will show you how important research is to healthcare, and the skills you acquire will be useful as a student and later as a healthcare professional.
Any role in a research context will give you insight into what is involved, and the skills you pick up (such as workload management and team-working) will be highly valued.
Participation in a science-based project will allow you to develop skills and qualities you can put to good use on a healthcare course:
There are numerous health-related charities that might offer work experience opportunities, and various ways to find it.
This route offers hands-on experience working with the people the charity supports. You might get first aid training with St John’s Ambulance or, if you have the background, you could train to be a Macmillan Nurse.
An administrative role gives a great perspective on the work of a healthcare charity, and everything you learn about managing your workload and collaborating with colleagues will stand you in good stead.
Raising money for a healthcare charity is a great way to demonstrate your creativity, energy and sense of service to the community.
Getting healthcare-related work experience can be hard to come by but if you approach it in the right way, non healthcare-related activities can be extremely valuable too. You may already be taking part in something that’s preparing you for healthcare!
It is important to think outside the box, focus on the skills you need to develop, and turn everything to your advantage, some examples of which are given below.
Paid work of any kind, in any field, is very likely to provide you with experience that you can build on in your healthcare career. In a full or part-time job in which you deal with people, provide a service, work in a team, get yourself organised or organise others, you’ll be developing important skills all the time!
Extra curricula activities and Community-based activities
Anything you take part in at school, college or within the community is likely to be highly valuable. If you’re wondering what is meant by this type of activity, below are a few examples of how these activities might be useful.
If you play for a team, there can’t be much you don’t know about team-work! And if you play an individual sport, you must be self-motivated and self-reliant, both of which are vital if you want to train for a healthcare career.
If you have ever been a prefect, a mentor, a tutor or team-leader, you clearly have a sense of responsibility and an appreciation of the skills required to guide, motivate and assist others.
If you take part in a Young Enterprise Scheme or a Duke of Edinburgh Award or join St John’s Ambulance, you’ll have plenty to talk about at interview and, more important than any certificate, plenty of new skills.
Whether you help out in a charity shop, take on a behind-the-scenes support role or pour your energy into fund-raising, you’re gathering excellent community-based work experience.
All your hobbies and interests will be of interest to an interview panel. Whether you play in a band, take beautiful photographs, speak fluent Chinese or tread the boards, they’ll want to hear about it.