Personal Statement: Work Experience
Talking about your work experience is important in your personal statement, some universities have work experience as a requirement, so demonstrating that you have done work experience in your personal statement is essential. For more information on work experience requirements be sure to check out our post on [University Comparison: Work Experience].
A common question we get asked is how many experiences should I mention? We recommend you reference at least 2 experiences out of your hospital, GP and volunteering placements. On top of this, try to focus on the interesting aspects too, for example if you spent 5 days at a GP surgery with 1 day being full of interesting patients you saw with the GP, focus on this instead of the other 4 days where you were doing menial tasks.
So, let’s get into the crux of it
How do I talk about my work experience?
You should follow this structure:
- What work experience you did – was it a hospital placement, volunteering, work shadowing?
- Where you did it – was it in a hospital, GP surgery, hospice, care home?
- What you saw – was there a particularly memorable interaction that you remember, or did something you see stand out to you?
- Reflection – what did your experience tell you about medicine? Did it make you more certain that a career in medicine is right for you?
When talking about your work experience placements, try to focus on skills demonstrated by doctors that you have seen, this will help focus your writing. Within each work experience it is important that you are:
- Reflective – don’t just state what you did or saw, but talk about what you learnt about the role of a doctor in this particular work experience setting. This is how to impress the examiner as it shows insight and maturity of your thoughts that they are looking for in medical students.
- Positive yet Realistic – It is important that your work experience has shown you the reality of becoming a doctor, as it isn’t the glamours role that it is sometimes portrayed on TV or in movies. Therefore, showing your realistic understanding is important. On top of this, showing that you are still positive about being a doctor will help to demonstrate your commitment to the profession. Try to maintain this positive tone throughout your personal statement.
Examples of writing about work experience:
“I saw how the GP was always rushed due to the number of patients he had to see, and how stressful and challenging a job medicine is”
Although this shows your insight into the realities of medicine, it is written in a rather negative tone. This makes the reader feel like this is a job no one would want to do, especially not someone who has seen this and identified this as a problem. Instead why no try:
“I appreciate the GPs skills in time efficiency and management, which enabled him to see so many patients in the day”
This instead focuses on the positive attributes of the doctor that enables him to function with more ease in a challenging role. This positive spin is still acknowledging the large number of patients that the GP has to see, however, comes across to the reader in a much more positive way. Try to replicate a similar thing with your own examples.
So, hope you found that all useful! In a nutshell – Talk about at least 2 different work experiences, focus on the interesting aspects of your work experience, remember to reflect, as this is what the examiners are looking for, try to focus on one skill demonstrated by a doctor per experience