Benefits of Work Experience and Work Placements

December 3, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Today, more and more students as well as educators are realising the importance of work experience and work placement programs that allow students to apply what they have learnt in the classroom to real-world professional situations. These programs complement classroom instruction and provide the perfect bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical application. Work experience and work placements can do much to help students get their foot in the door of their chosen profession as these individuals will not require as much on-the-job training as their competitors who have not had any real world experience.

Here’s a look at what each of both of these programs involve and the benefits of each for students who would like to pursue a career in medicine. 

Laura assisting her mentor in the obstetrics and gynaecology department in Tanzania Benefits Of Work Experience Programs

Work experience is a very brief, experienced-based learning opportunity that could range from a day to a couple of weeks. It can take numerous forms but the most common is shadowing medical professionals as they go about their day to day tasks, diagnosing and treating patients with various health conditions. A work experience program focuses on providing students with practical work experience within their chosen field. Although you do not get paid nor do you get any course credit when you shadow a physician, you get other benefits that more than make up for the time you spend. 

Work experience give you tremendous insight into life as a medical professional as you shadow them around observing their everyday activities. You do not have to make any extended time commitment to participate in a work experience program. During this time you get the opportunity to expand your network of professional contacts and mentioning it on your medical school application is like an additional qualification in the eyes of the interviewing committee.  

Benefits of Work Placements

Work placements are considerably longer than work experience programs and can range from a week to two weeks or more. There are several organisations in the UK that arrange medical placements in developing countries for students who wish to apply to medical school. Gap Medics is one such organisation that arranges work placements in developing countries including Thailand, the Czech Republic and Tanzania. 

During your work placement stint, you get the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the healthcare practices in these countries and how hospitals and medical professionals in developing countries function with the most basic of amenities and equipment. Depending on what your choice of specialty, you can also spend time shadowing midwives or caring for kids in orphanages.

Doing work placements in third-world countries is an eye-opening experience and gives you a more concrete and close-up look at the medical profession at large. Most important of all, doing a placement adds great value to your med school application and gives you lots to impress your interviewers with. 

On the personal front, medical work placements abroad expose you to different cultures and work ethics, not just of the host country but also from meeting other premed students from around the world who are attending the same program.