Work Experience in Medicine and Dentistry

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Work experience can be crucial in helping pupils decide whether to pursue a career in Medicine or Dentistry. Not only does it give them an insight into the day-to-day work of a professional, but it allows them to reflect on the personal qualities and values required of a healthcare professional within the NHS, whether they have these skills and aptitudes and what they can do to develop them. For students from groups currently underrepresented in these professions it can be challenging to secure work experience placements. Many school pupils undertake work experience with family members or close acquaintances but if you do not know anyone in these professions it can be very challenging to find a placement.

Several years ago, the Royal College of General Practitioners, along with Health Education England and the Medical Schools Council, developed a GP work experience tool kit Doctor, doctor…How do I get work experience? The toolkit provides all the information a practice would require to run a successful work experience programme, including reassurance on risk and confidentiality, insurance and indemnity and disclosure and barring. It recommends a placement of only 3-5 days.

A similar toolkit is also available for Dental work experience, Filling you in. Produced by the Dental Schools Council and Health Education England, like the GP work experience toolkit, it provides all the information that a dental practice needs to run successful placements and allays any concerns practices might have about hosting work experience pupils.

The Outreach and Widening Participation team in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences have successfully run a GP work experience scheme as part of our Routes to the Professions: Medicine programme. For the last two years, in collaboration with the RCGP and Health Education England, we have offered 30 three-day work experience placements in local GP practices. Year 12 pupils taking part in the scheme attend a pre- and post-placement workshop in the College which supports them to maximise the benefit of their placement, and to reflect on what they have learned about the profession from the work experience. If you are a GP and you would like your practice to get involved, please get in touch (MDSOutreach@contacts.bham.ac.uk). We are also keen to run a similar programme for pupils on our Routes to the Professions: Dentistry programme, so if you feel that your practice could take a student for a three-day placement over the summer of 2019, we’d love to hear from you (MDSOutreach@contacts.bham.ac.uk). If your practices already host work experience placements for family members or friends, perhaps you could also consider providing a placement for someone you don’t know. If you would like help with this, please get in touch (MDSOutreach@contact.bham.ac.uk).

College of Medical and Dental Sciences Outreach and Widening Participation – find out more

Author: Clare Ray

Clare Ray is the College of Medical and Dental Sciences lead for Outreach and Widening Participation.

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