With the COVID-19 situation of lockdown and restrictions, a lot of students, parents and teachers have been asking about work experience for applying students. Given that COVID-19 has seen a lot of work experience and volunteer work cancelled, we appreciate this is a hot topic and cause of stress for some at the moment. We hope to alleviate some of the concerns for all and have collated some information for each aspiration below. If you have any further questions, or have come across an opportunity not featured on here, please email Liz Bailey directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspiring Doctors Work Experience
For aspiring doctors, there have been some virtual initiatives put in place to support students gain work experience in a healthcare capacity, which takes place completely online.
- Brighton and Sussex Medical School, have set up a free virtual work experience for applying students. This has been designed to cover the important points that students would normally cover during work experience. This will help participating students to develop an insight into their considered career paths and hopefully help them form an informed decision on the career journey they wish to take. https://bsmsoutreach.thinkific.com/courses/VWE
- Royal College of General Practitioners – Observe GP. This is a virtual one day experience for those aged 16 and above. Students can download a series a pre-recorded videos, with interactive activities and a free downloadable reflective diary to complete during viewing. The videos will showcase the roles of healthcare professionals within a GP practice, including GP, Practice Manager and GP trainee. https://www.rcgp.org.uk/training-exams/discover-general-practice/observe-gp.aspx
- Medical Schools Council – have released guidance on work experience for aspiring students, and understand work experience and shadowing opportunities are not available at this time. As part of their guidance, they encourage students to keep a reflective diary of what is happening in the news relating to COVID-19, utilising online resources and if possible, completing volunteering and regular reflections on volunteering. Volunteering can cover supporting vulnerable people self-isolating at home. https://www.medschools.ac.uk/media/2636/guidance-on-gaining-relevant-experience-for-studying-medicine-in-the-time-of-covid-19.pdf
Aspiring Dental Students
Dental schools have in the past, understood gaining suitable work experience for dental students is difficult to obtain, and each university admissions team have different criteria. It is worth looking at the website of the schools of interest to check their individual requirements during normal circumstances, as dental laboratories have been accepted prior to COVID-19, and some dental schools do offer their own work experience for students, prioritising widening participation eligible students for the experience.
- Dental Schools Council – have issued a statement regarding work experience requirements during COVID-19 and have assured applicants that schools will be taking COVID-19 disruption into account for applicants. https://www.dentalschoolscouncil.ac.uk/news/dsc-releases-advice-on-gaining-experience-to-study-dentistry-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/
- Speaking to dentists, either over the phone or virtual chats will be incredibly useful, especially when combined with a reflective diary and comparison of skills observed during the meetings.
- Some dental schools have released MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) such as Sheffield University Dental School, students can learn about different roles in dental practices, and an introduction into tooth anatomy and disease. This is a free, 6 week course requiring a 3 hour per week commitment. Students do not receive a certificate of completion, unless paying an upgrade fee, but students can evidence their work experience through clear and concise reflections on what they have learnt. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/discover-dentistry
Aspiring Veterinarian Students
We are still awaiting clarification from the Vet Schools Council as to how COVID-19 restrictions will affect future applicants onto veterinarian courses, but universities are taking the situation into account and we can update students when we understand more.
Work experience is a mandatory requirement of both application and studying this course. The RSCV are currently reviewing current students who have to complete mandatory work experience in order to complete their course. Whilst there is no official guidance to help applying students currently, students can use their initiative and look at how aspiring medics and dentists are working around not being able to complete work experience.
- Talk to vets about their careers, either by telephone or virtual video calling facilities, completing reflections on your conversations.
- There are MOOCs available for prospective Vet students to sign up to, The university of Edinburgh have released a series of courses that could be beneficial to aspiring vet students; including, Do I have what it takes to be a Veterinarian, animal behaviour and welfare, and the truth about cats and dogs. These are free of charge to join https://www.coursera.org/learn/becoming-a-veterinarian https://www.coursera.org/learn/animal-welfare https://www.coursera.org/learn/cats-and-dogs
One Final Note – FOR ALL ASPIRING STUDENTS!
Whilst everyone is concerned about work experiences being cancelled during to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy for students, parents and teachers to become excited about companies offering to organise work experience, for a fee. It is important that we do not become fixated and out of desperation for work experience, sign up and pay for companies to organise work experience. Universities do not look favourably on students paying for work experience to be organised by third parties. Instead, appreciate the effort students undergo to secure work placements themselves. To organise work experience, students develop transferable skills vital to careers in medicine, dentistry and veterinarian medicine.
- Communication skills
- Able to use own initiative
- Problem solving
- Displaying determination
This list is of course, not exhaustive, and students may find they develop further transferable skills when organising work experience, especially during the current restrictions, where students will think outside the box more, when it comes to how to complete work experience.