Work Experience

This page acts as a blog for work experience that I have done.

Work experience allows you to demonstrate that you have an understanding of what it means to work in medicine. It gives you an insight into the roles of healthcare professionals, the structure and function of healthcare services and teams, and the wider issues surrounding medical practice and the NHS, giving you the chance to make an informed decision as to whether medicine is the career for you, and whether you have the skills and qualities suited to a doctor. Medicine is a physically and emotionally-demanding career, and it is important that you, as a prospective medical student, understand what you’re potentially signing up for when applying to medical school.

The crucial stage in work experience is not doing the work experience itself, it is afterwards when you can reflect on what you have done. Reflecting means critically analysing your work experience and asking questions such as:

  • Why did that happen?
  • Did that go well or badly?
  • What were the factors that affected what happened?
  • If this were to happen again, would I approach the situation differently?
  • What are the wider implications/lessons to be learnt from this consultation

Importantly, reflection is a way of finding out how a particular experience has changed your perception of medicine. It is also a way of finding out about yourself, including your skills and qualities, and what you would want from your future career. Furthermore, reflection doesn’t stop once you’ve been accepted into medical school; students and doctors are continually required to reflect on their practice to recognise goals for their own development.

One final thing to mention is that work experience doesn’t necessarily have to be in a healthcare setting – whilst these give you the most insight into the role of a doctor, work experience in the customer service sector can help you demonstrate that you have some of the important skills or qualities that would help you succeed as a doctor.

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Royal College of General Practitioners Observe GP

Given that all work experience has been cancelled indefinitely, I looked out for any virtual work experience opportunities, and I found a couple. One of them felt more like an online course, however, so you can see my notes of that under the ‘online course’ page. This ‘Observe a GP’ work experience felt much more real, however, as it is all video-based, and they treat you as if you are in the GP surgery, shadowing a doctor.

We started off with an introduction into the GP surgery, where approximately 90% of patient contact in the NHS is undertaken. The first location is the waiting room, where patients may be nervous, hence they are often designed in ways that relax the patient. They are also a place where important health information can be shared, through means such as notice boards. Social prescribing is when GPs and other primary care professionals refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services, such as the park run – these can be advertised on the notice board.

Every GP has to have a Patient Participation Group (PPG), where staff at a practice can gain a patient’s perspective on new services to better support patients. Some GPs are Armed Forces Veteran Friendly and have a specific doctor (clinical lead for veteran issues) who can deal with veterans, as the care which they need often differs from other people’s needs. Some GPs have a plasma screen, paid for by the local trusts etc., and thus the local trust can stipulate what campaigns and information goes onto it. This means all practices in a certain region are promoting the same stuff, and there is therefore continuity in their message. Though GPs can put their own messages on the screen as well. The screen can also be used by doctors when they are ready to see their next patient, as a means of requesting them, but some GPs prefer to go to get their patient. It sometimes has out of hours and opening times as well. In the waiting room, there is often a blood pressure monitor so that patients can take their own blood pressure before the appointment, to save time during the consultation. There is also a lot of hand sanitizer dotted around, which is important for infection control.

In a GP, there is also:

  • A number of consultation rooms
  • A minor surgery room
  • An isolation room (for someone suspected to have a contagious disease)
  • An emergency room, e.g. if a patient has chest pains, they can go in here to have treatment – all staff are trained in CPR and how to use a defibrillator.
  • An education room where meetings and training are hosted.
  • Staff Room

A few quick facts:

  • 1 million GP appointments take place every day.
  • Palliative care is relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition.
  • A multidisciplinary team is an integrated team approach to healthcare, where a diverse group of professionals work together. The evaluation of treatment options and treatment planning are collaborative processes involving medical and allied healthcare professionals, in coordination with the patient and the patient’s family. So, a group of professionals from one or more clinical disciplines who together make decisions regarding recommended treatment of individual patients.

Confidentiality is vital, and a doctor must not share information outside of consultations, even with a parent (if, for example, a parent asked a GP what he had seen her 16-year-old son for, as he didn’t tell her). GPs can technically see a child alone at any age. However, they must make a judgement about the child’s competence; it can depend on the problem they are experiencing and they must consider safeguarding (perhaps the parent has neglected the child).

Patient records are important for:

  • It is evidence of what occurred, to protect the GP if the patient complains. It is a legal document. It should be completed contemporaneous i.e. at the time of the consultation.
  • Analysing large volumes of patient information can aid medical research, indicate the rate of a condition and where finance is required.
  • In the future, the same GP or a different GP can refer to the record for medical history.