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Getting experience for the healthcare sector

The healthcare sector is an exciting and ever-changing branch of society – but because of that, it’s also very competitive. For this reason, it’s essential to explore the sector and grab every opportunity available to you in order to stand out to universities and employers.

Shadowing

The most common route for experience is shadowing a health care professional. This is good for seeing what the job is really about and provides an insight so that you can make an informed decision about studying and training for it. However, you won’t usually be able to get hands-on with anything, and shadowing opportunities can be hard to get. But don’t let that put you off trying, as it’s a very valuable form of experience that is recognised by many course providers and healthcare employers. 

To get your foot in the door with healthcare shadowing you can contact your local NHS trust by searching online or asking at your local hospital, or you can ask at a GP (but not your own because of confidentiality issues). If this fails, you could always ask at your local GP if you could talk to a health care professional about their experience of their job to gain a small understanding of the profession.

Volunteering

Another way to gain experience is by voluntary work, which is a great way to explore the sector whilst developing your skills and helping others. This work can be in a general or caring role - both will demonstrate selflessness and commitment. Caring voluntary roles include working with groups such as children, the elderly and disabled people. These roles can be found on websites such as Do It or by visiting your local hospice. You can also volunteer for your local NHS Trust - however these opportunities often come with specific guidelines to do with age and level of commitment.

Opportunities at school

Some opportunities can be easily accessed or even created in schools in order to learn more about healthcare and develop the skills needed to succeed within your chosen field. Joining and contributing to a school medical society will enable you to find out more about the healthcare system and have the chance to work in a team with like-minded people.

If your school doesn’t have a medical society, this is the perfect opportunity for you to form one! This will look amazing on your personal statement as it shows independence, creativity and motivation. Once you’ve found a few people who are interested (usually from years 11-13) you can start by inviting a healthcare professional. Be sure to ask around friends, relatives and teachers to see if they know anyone who would be willing to hold a talk. Don’t forget to offer refreshments and a good venue with power-point facilities!

Other events

Other than this, one day events like career fairs are a great way to gain insight from the experts. The British Medical Journal hold an annual career fair for aspiring medics in years 11-13, where you can talk to professionals about a career in medicine.

Keeping track

As you go along searching for opportunities, it’s a good idea to keep a track on all of your experiences and efforts. You can do this by writing a blog which will help to improve your written communication and summarise the steps of your journey towards reaching your goal.

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