The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

How do medical school applicants respond to the requirement for 'work experience'? An exploration of 'going abroad'

How do medical school applicants respond to the requirement for 'work experience'? An exploration of 'going abroad'
How do medical school applicants respond to the requirement for 'work experience'? An exploration of 'going abroad'
Background and Purpose
Arranging work experience prior to medical school can for many potential applicants prove extremely difficult,
with access to clinical settings often considered the ideal type. Potential applicants struggle to interpret the
official guidance from medical schools1, making the application process intensely unsettling. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that some UK-based candidates have been responding to these perceived requirements
by paying to undertake commercially-mediated international work experience (i-WEX)2,3.

A recent Medical Schools Council announcement highlights that overseas work experience prior to studying
medicine is problematic.4 However, there is no literature that would tell us anything about why it is being
undertaken, by whom or about the potential consequences for participants and hosts. This project addresses
this gap and offers insights into applicants’ mind-sets and the commercial environment that appears to provide
a potential solution to their dilemma. It draws on parallels with existing debates around the benefits and
drawbacks of volunteer tourism pertaining to medical electives and gap year volunteer projects.

Methodology
This is an exploratory interview-based study with UK undergraduate medical students (n=15). Following
completion of the individual interviews, each one will be transcribed, before a thematic analysis is performed.

Results
To date some seven interviews have been conducted already and we expect the final analysis and writing up
to conclude in May 2015.

Discussion and Conclusions
Preliminary analysis suggests that the seemingly conflicting guidance regarding work experience
requirements has left applicants susceptible to panic when observing the apparent opportunities enjoyed by
peers encountered at school and on online forums. As previously suggested in the literature, networks (into
the healthcare professions) are invaluable for organising work experience, though many applicants do not
have such contacts. Apparently, this leads some applicants to undertake i-WEX, which promises exotic and
exciting experiences to elaborate on in personal statements and interviews.

1- Timm A. The Hopes and Fears of new medical students: An exploration of students’ perspectives of applying to medical school. Medical
Education Development Unit, University of Southampton; 2013: 7.
2- Gap Medics. About Us. http://www.gapmedics.co.uk/about (accessed 2nd January 2015).
3- Projects Abroad UK. About Projects Abroad: Projects Abroad Today. http://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/about-us/ (accessed 2nd January
2015).
4- Medical Schools Council. Selecting for Excellence - Work experience guidelines for applicants to medicine. December 2014.
Collins, Stephen
3890ecc3-a3fe-4002-afef-7b08dbde8f8d
Timm, Anja
28485de4-3234-48f2-9ac7-9b262d366a54
Collins, Stephen
3890ecc3-a3fe-4002-afef-7b08dbde8f8d
Timm, Anja
28485de4-3234-48f2-9ac7-9b262d366a54

Collins, Stephen and Timm, Anja (2015) How do medical school applicants respond to the requirement for 'work experience'? An exploration of 'going abroad'. Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) Annual Scientific Meeting 2015, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. 14 - 16 Jul 2015.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Background and Purpose
Arranging work experience prior to medical school can for many potential applicants prove extremely difficult,
with access to clinical settings often considered the ideal type. Potential applicants struggle to interpret the
official guidance from medical schools1, making the application process intensely unsettling. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that some UK-based candidates have been responding to these perceived requirements
by paying to undertake commercially-mediated international work experience (i-WEX)2,3.

A recent Medical Schools Council announcement highlights that overseas work experience prior to studying
medicine is problematic.4 However, there is no literature that would tell us anything about why it is being
undertaken, by whom or about the potential consequences for participants and hosts. This project addresses
this gap and offers insights into applicants’ mind-sets and the commercial environment that appears to provide
a potential solution to their dilemma. It draws on parallels with existing debates around the benefits and
drawbacks of volunteer tourism pertaining to medical electives and gap year volunteer projects.

Methodology
This is an exploratory interview-based study with UK undergraduate medical students (n=15). Following
completion of the individual interviews, each one will be transcribed, before a thematic analysis is performed.

Results
To date some seven interviews have been conducted already and we expect the final analysis and writing up
to conclude in May 2015.

Discussion and Conclusions
Preliminary analysis suggests that the seemingly conflicting guidance regarding work experience
requirements has left applicants susceptible to panic when observing the apparent opportunities enjoyed by
peers encountered at school and on online forums. As previously suggested in the literature, networks (into
the healthcare professions) are invaluable for organising work experience, though many applicants do not
have such contacts. Apparently, this leads some applicants to undertake i-WEX, which promises exotic and
exciting experiences to elaborate on in personal statements and interviews.

1- Timm A. The Hopes and Fears of new medical students: An exploration of students’ perspectives of applying to medical school. Medical
Education Development Unit, University of Southampton; 2013: 7.
2- Gap Medics. About Us. http://www.gapmedics.co.uk/about (accessed 2nd January 2015).
3- Projects Abroad UK. About Projects Abroad: Projects Abroad Today. http://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/about-us/ (accessed 2nd January
2015).
4- Medical Schools Council. Selecting for Excellence - Work experience guidelines for applicants to medicine. December 2014.

Text
__soton.ac.uk_ude_PersonalFiles_Users_at2o07_mydocuments_FromUdrive_Presentations given (AT)_SCandAT_ASME_iWEX_13Jul2015.pdf - Other
Download (1MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 20 March 2015
Published date: 16 July 2015
Venue - Dates: Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) Annual Scientific Meeting 2015, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2015-07-14 - 2015-07-16
Organisations: Medical Education

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 397609
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/397609
PURE UUID: be3c07b2-e35a-4290-a90b-c580ed45f2ab

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Jul 2016 13:40
Last modified: 17 Apr 2020 16:34

Export record

Contributors

Author: Stephen Collins
Author: Anja Timm

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×