Medicine Work Experience: Medicine Volunteering

Tamsin Dyer

Tamsin Dyer

Senior Writer at Medic Mind

When thinking about their work experience students can sometimes forget that volunteering is just as valuable as shadowing! Many students complete either long-term or short-term volunteering placements at some point which can hugely help your medical school application. In this article we’re going to explore the different types of volunteering available to you and how to use your medicine volunteering in your application.

Long-term medicine volunteering

A long term volunteering position will be a role that you complete a few times a month for a period of several months or years. This is great for your application as it shows your commitment to a career in care and also allows you to really become part of the team. These roles can be in a wide variety of settings ranging from care homes, hospitals, hospices or even within the community too.

Some example roles include:

How you talk about your volunteering experience will depend what setting it took place in. Take a note of any examples of good communication, empathy or team-work as you’ll likely be asked about this! If your role involves interacting with other professionals its a good idea to also find out what their job involves and think about how this fits into the multidisciplinary team.

Short-term medicine volunteering day

Although a sing day sounds like a very short period of time, completing a full day volunteering is a good way to get some medical work experience. Sometimes certain organisations may be running events or need some one-off help, so it’s worth looking at local charitable organisations and seeing if you can help out in some way. You’ll still be able to talk about interacting with patients or vulnerable people, despite the short time frame. If you can volunteer as part of a team to help run or organise, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and team-working skills.

Medicine volunteering is a good way to add to your work experience
Medicine volunteering is a great way to add to your work experience

Non-medicine volunteering

Volunteering in any setting is useful for your application. For example, volunteering in a charity shop may involve interacting with customers and use of your organisational skills. For example, if a question comes up in interview about your communication skills you can use an example of dealing with a difficult customer to demonstrate how you handled a tricky communication situation. As long as you also have some healthcare experience to demonstrate you understand the role of a doctor, non-medical work experience can be very valuable for your application as you’re often able to carry out roles with a higher responsibility.

Top Tips:

  • Voluntary work experience is a good way to demonstrate caring and empathy
  • Apply to be a volunteer early – often being a volunteer involves working with vulnerable individuals and you need to be background checked (DBS) which can take some time
  • Make sure to include your volunteering in your application. If you’ve spent time getting all this great experience make sure you get the credit for it!

???? Is volunteering good for medical school?

Yes! Volunteering shows you have a clear motivation to care for and help people. It shows commitment to a caring career as well as good organisation skills, team-work and empathy. You’ll also pick up on communication skills and an understanding of how care is organised within the UK. These are all valuable qualities!

???? How many hours of volunteering do I need to do for medical school?

There’s no true answer to this. Most medical schools don’t have a strict number of hours of experience they require, however they will expect you to have spent a good amount of time getting valuable work experience, which includes volunteering. If you have lots of other work experiences, you might only want to commit to a short term volunteering placement for a few days. Whereas if you have lots of time it might be better to commit to long-term volunteering over a period of months or years to really show your commitment!

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