Hosting work experience in general practice

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause challenges for our members and general practice it is not back to ‘normal’ yet, though RCGP recognise the importance of hands on exposure for young people considering a career in general practice. Therefore, RCGP advise that the decision to provide work experience is taken on a local basis. Practices will want to prioritise service delivery but those who have capacity and can do it safely can start planning for work experience.

An alternative for aspiring medics is our free interactive video platform Observe GP which provides insights into general practice, and is an element of relevant experience when applying to medical school. You can find out more here Observe GP.

If you have any queries regarding COVID-19 specifically, please email Covid19@rcgp.org.uk or refer to our dedicated web page.

If you have a query about Observe GP, please contact member.programmes@rcgp.org.uk

Offer work experience at your practice 

The RCGP has produced the below guidance and resource to support GP practices to offer work experience placements to pupils aged 16+. Practices may also wish to consider partnering with a local medical school or social enterprise who are part of our Widening Participation Work Experience Programme

Aspiring medics can find advice about obtaining work experience on a dedicated web page. 

Work experience is one way that young people, who are interested in applying to study medicine, can gain an understanding of some of the realities of healthcare. Throughout the application process to medical school, pupils must demonstrate that they have acquired this knowledge and obtained the necessary core values, and attributes. It is often not easy for pupils to gain work experience opportunities, unless they have networks and contacts in healthcare.

By offering work experience practices can: 

  • Support informed career decisions
  • Provide insight into general practice
  • Develop the skills of your staff members 
  • Inspire tomorrows #TeamGP.

"Encouraging young people to consider a career in primary care is crucial to helping inspire the next generation of GPs. Work experience helps pupils gain an insight into the work that family doctors do."  Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard.

One-day placements

example one-day work experience schedule screenshot

Practices are encouraged to consider, where possible, offering anywhere from one day to three days to any one pupil. A week-long commitment is not a requirement. A one-day work experience placement can provide a young person with fantastic insight into primary care and they are incentivised to get as much out of the day as possible. 

The emphasis for young people is not how much work experience they get but how they reflect upon what they observe. The RCGP have created a reflective diary [PDF] which can be provided to work experience participants to help them reflect on their experiences and take notes. A pupil pack [PDF] has also been created which can be provided ahead of the placement to ensure they are prepared.

An example one-day work experience schedule [PDF]  is available for practices to use as a template - with particular emphasis placed on induction at the start of the first day. 

Who should I offer placements to? 

  • Pupils should not attend a work experience placement at the practice they are registered at as a patient (see common myths below)
  • It is not necessary for practices to collect and select pupils based on academic criteria
  • Placements can be offered ad-hoc or by establishing a relationship with a careers adviser or head of science at a school outside your immediate locality
  • Teachers within said school can select suitable pupils (aged 16+) interested in medicine and ensure they are prepared for the day
  • Practices are encouraged to provide opportunities to young people who do not have relatives or friends working in healthcare. 

Best practice  

  • Pupils should not be allowed to carry out any clinical activities
  • Ensure that participants are in the company of a member of staff at all times
  • Please take account of the different levels of maturity, confidence and experience of your participant(s)
  • They will be nervous and often we can overestimate our expectations of young people
  • Be clear on the start and finish times.

 


Useful information flyer for aspiring medics

Work experience resources 

Reflective diary [PDF]
Pupil agreement form [PDF]
Patient consent form [PDF]
Pupil guide [PDF]
Example one-day work experience schedule [PDF]
Confidentiality activity sheet [PDF]
Confidentiality facilitator notes [PDF]
Consultations and patient records activity sheet [PDF]
Consultations and patient records facilitator notes [PDF]
Medical ethics activity sheet [PDF]
Medical ethics facilitator notes [PDF]
NHS core values activity sheet [PDF]
NHS core values facilitator notes [PDF]
Widening Participation work experience programme overview [PDF] (see below)

An editable certificate to supply to pupils is available by emailing: schools@rcgp.org.uk

Aspiring medic flyer [PDF] (left)

It may not be possible to offer work experience to every pupil who requests it, or it may not be possible at your practice to offer any placements at this time. 

Finding work experience can be tough for young people, and knock their confidence. Provide our Aspiring medic flyer [PDF] (left) in person, or via email to pupils who approach your practice for work experience so that they are not left empty-handed. The flyer provides useful advice about other ways to gain a realistic understanding of medicine, because work experience is only one way. 

 

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