Ahh summer holiday… before you know it, the exams season will be over and the sweet freedom of summer will be upon us. Now before I dive into this month’s blog topic, let me be upfront about the goal of the summer break: rest and relaxation. The holidays are crucial to allow you to recharge you batteries following the slog of exam revision and execution and before you head back to school in September, for what could be possible the most hectic term of your school career. Use the summer to break your routine, perhaps go on holiday with family and friends and generally just relax!
That said, the quieter summer months are also a key opportunity to do some activities relating to your Oxbridge application. The top three are: prepare your personal statement, have a reading schedule planned out, and undertake subject-related work experience; it is this latter topic that I will talk about today, with a particular focus on Medics. For all students wishing to study Medicine or related subjects, the level of competition among students is now such that having some sort of work experience is now the standard for all applicants, and not having any could make your application stand out in the worst way possible. Work experience is meant to reflect that you have started to explore and learn in a more hands-on approach about the subject you are claiming to be passionate about, so you can see why any interviewer might be suspicious if you don’t have a good reason why you have any!
So where to begin… for Medics, there are several starting points. Firstly, figure out if there is a particular specialty that you would like to have experience in, such as surgery or dentistry. From there, explore the following ways to ask for work experience:
Family options – is there anyone in your family’s network who works in medicine and who can get you a position shadowing a physician? This is a typical starting point for many applicants
If you are unable to find anything through family, then the next stop is your school. Speak to the teacher managing the medical applicants and see if they have any recommendations, as they may have a network of willing physicians (perhaps former students!) who are willing to take on summer students.
It may also be worthwhile have a discussion with your own local GP practice or any of your own health care providers as they may be interested to take on summer students.
Another avenue to explore are local care homes for the elderly as well as recovery centres for those who have been discharged from hospital but are still undergoing physical therapy and outpatient care. They are often very happy to have extra help and can be flexible with the hours and days that you work.
Lastly, consider reaching out to any nurses you know. Shadowing nurses can often provide the most hands-on experience and is one I highly recommend.