How to use your medical work experience


Using your medical work experience 

You will have spent the last 2 or 3 years fighting to gain work experience in a wide range of settings. Now is the time to make sure you mention your best parts and what you learnt. You will have heard "quality over quantity" a million times, this even more true in your interview. You wont have time to mention your all your work experience so we need to find your best 2 or 3 and be VERY comfortable talking about them.

Look over your notes and find your best examples. What you are looking for in a good example are times when you have evidence of someone (not always a doctor) demonstrating skills that you need as a doctor. You are looking for examples of excellent:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Empathy
  • Knowledge
  • Respect
  • Professional
  • Ability to listen

Using the list find an example where you can demonstrate clearly how the person you observed/helped used the skill(s). It's important you write these answers out in a structured way, so use the PEE method:

1.     Point - Make your point about the skill you are talking about.

2.     Evidence - Provide clear and well researched evidence of the person using the skill.

3.     Explain - Link the evidence to back to the skill and tell the interviewer what you learnt from this and how this has helped you on your journey to wanting to study medicine.


Question - "Can you tell me about an interesting case you observed whilst on work experience?"

Answer -

1.     Point - "Of course. I was volunteering at a local dementia home last summer and saw the gradual deterioration in one patient's condition. The visiting doctor had arrived whilst the patients family were present. The family were very concerned and emotions were running quite high. I watched at the doctor demonstrated an impressive range of communication and empathy whilst examining the patient.

2.     Evidence -  I watched as the doctor addressed both the patient and the patients family. He noticed they were upset and provided an explanation as to the examination he was about to undertake. This calmed the family down and allowed him to focus on the patient. The doctor took a collateral history, spoke to the nursing staff and family. It was amazing to see a doctor control the situation using communication whilst gathering information from several sources. After the examination the doctor explained everything in small chunks to the family and allowed time for questions.

3.     Explain - As the doctor was assessing a patient with dementia it was impressive to see the communication skill used to collect information from a multi-disciplinary team to provide the best care for the patient. By acknowledging the family, providing information in small chunks and allowing time for questions also demonstrated empathy for the patient and their family. It was a real learning experience watching the doctor work and its something I wish to emulate in my medical career."