Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Applying to medicine

Writing about your work experience in your personal statement—case examples

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 23 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3359
  1. Alison Walker, associate editor BMJ

All applicants need to write about their work experience in their personal statement to demonstrate why they are a good candidate not only for a place at medical school but also as a future doctor. How have successful medical students done this? I asked four students at different medical schools to tell me how they got their work experience, what they did, and, most importantly, how they put into words what they learnt from it all.

My main work experience placement during sixth form was volunteering at a care home for elderly people for almost a year. The application process was straightforward: I called the care home, was sent an application pack in the post, and was then interviewed by the manager a few weeks later. The placement involved visiting once a week for a few hours to provide company for some of the residents. Although this was not work experience in a hospital, I was able to reflect on how it highlighted the difficulties of being a doctor in my personal statement. I wrote:

“I have experienced both sadness and frustration with regards to a resident who suffers from Alzheimer’s, because she learns to trust me, only to forget who I am later on. Despite this I visit her regularly because a few kind words on my part, grants her a sense of security. This, amongst other experiences, has allowed me to begin to appreciate the intensity of the emotional stress doctors face daily.”

Out of all the work experience I did (including shadowing consultants at various hospitals) I now know that it was …

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