Aspiring medics

School and college pupils aged 16+ (in S6 / Year 12) who are interested in studying medicine can find top tips for obtaining GP work experience below and learn more about a career in general practice. 

5 top tips to obtain GP work experience

Number 1 in an orange circle

Ask for a one-day placement  

Work experience does not need to last a week.  A huge amount of insight can be gained in one day because GPs and clinicians in general practice see a wide variety of patients in one day.  It is easier for a practice to offer one day, especially because they are very busy. If you only have one day - you are required to be fully prepared, on time, and focused on making the most of your opportunity.    

Most medical schools do not set a minimum number of hours of work experience that applicants need to undertake. Entry requirements for all 40 medical schools in the UK can be found on a dedicated Medical Schools Council web page. A definition of work experience and more information can also be found in the Medical Schools Council Guidance.

 

 

Number 2 in a green circle

Use our reflective diary     

What is important, is how you reflect on your experiences, not how many hours you get. Obtaining and attending work experience is not a box you tick - there is purpose behind it. It is to ensure that applicants to medicine have gained an understanding of some of the realities of medicine and therefore know what they are embarking upon. Applicants are also required to demonstrate that they have developed some of the core values and attributes of a medicine student. 

The RCGP reflective diary [PDF] can be used during any relevant experiences you obtain, whether that be in primary or secondary care, or during part time work. Reflection and note taking are both underestimated skills, so we have provided activities, within the diary, so you can ask yourself questions about what you are observing.  

 

  

Number 3 in a blue circle

Research confidentiality 

A common question we are asked is - "can I do work experience at my own GP practice?"  - unfortunately not. Practices are advised not to have pupils who are registered patients attend work experience because there is an increased chance they will know patients who are also registered at that practice. Depending on the geographical area, some practices also do not take pupils on work experience if they live in the locality, even if they aren't registered patients. Why? Because confidentiality is paramount. Confidentiality provides the foundation of general practice - it builds trust with patients and allows for honesty and full disclosure of important health information.  

Before applying for work experience, research confidentiality and its importance. Look up scenarios and consider why practices must be vigilant about who they have observing in their practice. Write about your understanding of confidentiality in your emails, letters and on your CV. Confirm that you agree to keep all identifiable patient information confidential. 

 

 

Number 4 in a blue circle

Download our pupil guide to make the most of your GP work experience 

Before approaching GP practices to request work experience, download and read our pupil guide [PDF]. It outlines what pupils should wear, what they can expect to see and how to behave during work experience in general practice. 

By reading this, you can explain to practices that you understand what you would be required to do. This demonstrates forethought, preparedness and maturity. GP work experience only ever involves observing, you will not be allowed to undertake any clinical activity. 

 

 

 

Number 5 in a purple circle

Articulate what you learn

The ability to explain what you have seen during work experience is what is going to make the difference between you and other candidates at interview. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of practice to articulate yourself succinctly, clearly, and authentically. Applicants need to be able to describe incidences with patients and the skills demonstrated. What language will you use, how will you structure your answer? What did you reflect upon what you witnessed? 

Take the time to talk to friends and family explaining what you are learning about healthcare. Don't forget though, you must never disclose any identifiable information about patients. If you want to work in healthcare, you must adhere to the same conduct and ethics as medical staff. 

 

I am under the age of 16, can I obtain work experience with a GP? 

Due to insurance and safeguarding pupils under the age of 16 cannot undertake work experience with a GP. 

Work experience is just one way

It remains the preferred option but there are a variety of ways to increase your understanding of medicine and healthcare and develop the necessary transferable skills. Pupils can read relevant books, and articles, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, undertake voluntary work, gain experience in part time paid work and ask questions of professionals when opportunities arise. 

The RCGP supply GP practices with this useful information flyer [PDF] to provide to aspiring medics when they cannot offer a work experience placement. The flyer contains examples of relevant books and podcasts. The more you read and reflect the more you learn and the more questions you should have. It is important to take notes - but create a structure for your notes - write key words and terminology in one place, quotes and examples in another and facts and figures somewhere else. 

Don't forget - applicants can also use examples from part-time work - during interview - to demonstrate the necessary skills and values. Many skills are transferable, and these examples can tell interviewers a great deal about you. 

What is a GP?

GPs are experts in their patients. They provide the first point of contact with the NHS for most people in their communities - there are over 1 million GP consultations in the UK every day!

They deal with a wide range of medical conditions and will treat patients throughout their lives. GPs are vital to their local community and contribute hugely to keeping the nation healthy.

5 reasons to become a GP:

1) Design a career to suit you

 

Develop a flexible career around the needs of your patients and your personal life.

Work in a range of practice and community settings and even travel the globe to improve patient care.

Work in your favourite industry from sport and politics to business, events and even the military.

2) Be an expert in your patients

 

Diagnose a wide range of complex conditions, both quickly and compassionately as an expert medical generalist.

Play the role of a detective as you make accurate diagnoses.

Change the lives of your patients as you develop an understanding of the people and diversity in your local community.

3) Thrive as a member of Team GP

 

Join a profession where teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity are required everyday.

Work with multi-skilled teams in your community to deliver extensive care for your patients.

Help inspire the next generation of doctors as a teacher. 

4) Improve healthcare for your patients

 

Be empowered to lead improvements in healthcare and be at the forefront as technology evolves.

Take on new and exciting roles as care for patients increasingly moves out of hospitals and into the community.

Make significant contributions to the care of many millions of patients around the world through research and development.

5) Put patients at the heart of everything you do

 

Make a difference and ensure your patients receive the best possible care.

Treat the whole patients and look at the physical, social and psychological aspects of a patients well being throughout their lives.

See patients in a variety of settings including the privilege of their own home.

My route to becoming a GP poster


The RCGP is delighted to work closely with the Medical Schools' Selection Alliance to support young people who are interested in studying medicine. 

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