It’s important to balance your time spent studying with focusing on your own personal and professional development. A range of activities outside of your course can develop your transferable skills, provide some relaxation time and support future applications.
Medicine is increasingly competitive and medical graduates are finding that having excellent academic and clinical skills may not be quite enough to secure the specialty of their choice. You have the opportunity to develop transferable skills both within your pre-clinical and clinical years, as well as through other extracurricular activities.
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Pre-clinical years - this is an ideal time to explore what's available, get involved with societies and broaden your skills with work experience or summer placements.Clinical years - as you become immersed in clinical practice you will start to get a better idea of the different areas of medicine. You could participate in a mentoring or buddying scheme with senior staff to gain an insight into their daily routines or undertake an audit to gain experience of that type of work.In Clinical Phase 2 (CP2) you will be planning for your elective placement in CP3. You can use this opportunity to gain invaluable and different experience to further develop your skills.
Special Study Module(s)
In CP2 you will undertake a Specialist Study Module (SSM). This is a great opportunity to pursue your interests, develop your research and presentation skills, and explore smaller specialties that you might not have encountered in earlier years. Pick from a list of specialties provided by the school or source your own.
Medical student-selected components
Final year elective
Your final year elective gives you the chance to find out more about yourself and where you’d like to be in the future.
You can choose to do your six-week elective at home or overseas; wherever you go make the most of the opportunity to develop your skills, knowledge and networks.
Choosing electivesMoodle - Planning your elective
Clinical audits help to assess whether patients are getting the best treatment from their service and compare current practice with guidelines for improved practice.
Getting involved in an audit can show your interest in a specialty and help build networks with senior colleagues.
Getting involved in clinical audits
As you progress through your medical training and career there will be numerous opportunities to compete for medical prizes and awards. Such competitions are generally held by medical research, training, specialty or associated bodies, by charities or by educational institutions with an interest in particular aspects of medicine.
Awards and prizes differ in topic and type of award, as well as in the level of work and original research required.
Some prizes will be well advertised through the Medical School, others will require more initiative to find. Also talk to tutors and use the web.
Part-time work and summer jobs in any setting (not just healthcare-related) can provide you with opportunities to develop skills such as communication, organisation and leadership.
It can also provide a valuable income, but be careful not to over commit yourself during term time.
Advice from NHS Health CareersApply to Unitemps, our recruitment service
Work shadowing can provide a great insight into a particular specialty including the type of work involved, how that work impacts patients and the kinds of decisions and dilemmas faced.
It may take time to organise a work shadowing opportunity, so the earlier you can start planning the better. Remember to keep a reflective log or journal that you can look back on later as this may provide useful evidence of the skills and knowledge you have gained.
Volunteering can demonstrate and build a number of skills, as well as provide a feel-good factor during your studies. There are volunteer opportunities in healthcare and non-healthcare settings for a range of different interests and courses.
The Student Volunteer Centre have a number of projects, and within MedSoc you may find other opportunities to volunteer your time and knowledge.
Taking part in student societies, or undertaking a committee position can develop transferable skills such as time management, leadership and event planning.
The Students' Union has more than 200 societies including MedSoc and sports clubs so there's plenty to choose from!
Having a mentor, or a Medic Buddy, could be useful if you would like guidance from a more experienced individual.
A mentor can be someone to discuss your future choices with, generate ideas with and explore your strengths and weaknesses with. There are a number of schemes you can participate in which enable you to buddy up with someone from a specialty of interest, or to be mentored by a Nottingham alumni.
It is important to identify what your out-of-curriculum activities have given you in terms of skills and experience.
Capturing the value of your experiences, and being able to evidence it, is key to helping you build your self-awareness which will help with your career planning. It is also key to capture on paper for future applications.
Read more about medical CVs and portfolios.
Develop your leadership skills - NHS Careers websitePersonal and professional development - NHS Careers website
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