By Malaika Haider
Social distancing and nationwide lockdowns may have derailed your plans for work experience and open days.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic! Lots of aspiring medics are in the exact same situation, as you are right now. Fortunately, the internet delivers once again in the form of virtual resources that are free and accessible.
Virtual Work Experience
It’s important to remember that not all universities require experience in a hospital environment. Furthermore, it’s always about quality over quantity. Interviewers won’t be impressed by a long list of placements with superficial reflection. As long as your work experience has allowed you to gain a deeper understanding of life as a healthcare professional, it’s a worthwhile experience.
That being said, if you are interested in online opportunities, there are a few available for you to access.
BSMS Virtual Work Experience:
This is a comprehensive virtual work experience course, that is free to enroll in. There are 6 modules altogether, each tackling a different specialty of medicine, as well as an overview of the role of the NHS.
Within each module are a series of presentations, quizzes and a summary of what you’ve just learnt. The final module requires a reflective piece, a skill useful to practice before writing your personal statements. The website has some examples of user submitted content. You receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Not only does this resource help you practice your reflective skills, you are also able to gain exposure to different specialties and healthcare environments.
Open University – Future Learn
While you do have to pay for some of the courses on this site, there are still many free resources that are very relevant for aspiring medical students! A popular choice is The Kings Fund course; The NSH explained: How the Health System in England Really Works. It’s 8-hour course tackling topics from the structure of the NHS now, to how the NHS can adapt to future challenges. This being especially relevant to the times we are currently in.
A few other interesting courses are Ethical Decision-Making in Care: Introducing care ethics in ordinary and extraordinary times offered by the University of Surrey taking you through the four principles of ethics, human rights and virtue ethics. You also might be interested in Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges, which tackles the opportunities, challenges and ethics of A.I. in healthcare.
As an international student, open days have always been very inaccessible to me. However, my loss is your gain! I have several pieces of advice for getting a feel of a campus virtually. It’s definitely not impossible.
Virtual Open Days and Tours
Most universities have virtual campus tours available on their website. While these aren’t the most informative, they do provide a good look at the campus and let you have a general feel for the university. UCAS has a comprehensive list of virtual tours sorted by each university. These links will often take you to the universities website or YouTube channel, where you’ll find more recent content and further information on life at that university.
Certain universities are also scheduling virtual open days. UCAS also has a page dedicated to these, so keep your eyes peeled for any concerning the universities you’re interested in.
Chances are, there is at least one youtuber, who vlogs at a university you’re interested in. They don’t have to be a medical student! Content such as ‘A day in the life’ or ‘being a part of society ’ will still be relevant and useful if you want a more general look at university. You’ll often find that vloggers will provide a more authentic viewpoint, than a virtual tour from the university, and their content will most likely be more up to date too.
I was really surprised by how much universities now value Instagram, as a way to reach potential students! You’ll find anything from current students ‘taking over’ a universities story for a day, to quick tours of campus and the opportunity to ask questions. These will extremely informative as well, so I suggest following the universities that you’re interested in and monitor their stories.
Here at Scrubbed Up: we have many resources to help you through your application. Our forum team are ‘scrubbed up’ and ready to answer any questions you may have about the application process. They are especially trained to provide clarity and student- friendly advice, which quite frankly, we wished to have known when applying. Furthermore, a great feature of the website is the section of articles featuring personal, in-depth accounts from medical students across the country. They reveal all about their respective medical schools, tips they wished to have received, and why they love their medical school in particular.