Work experience during the coronavirus pandemic

Most of our undergraduate Health Sciences courses encourage or require applicants to have gained work experience relevant to their course of study. Suitable work experience and subsequent reflection is important to inform an applicant about their potential vocation and what a career in human or animal healthcare entails.

Our admissions statements make clear how much work experience is recommended or required, and how we assess work experience.

We appreciate that many of our applicants will have been unable to undertake work experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Remember that most applicants will all be in the same situation. We are aware that the opportunities available to you have been affected, and we will adapt our expectations for work experience accordingly.

We encourage you to seek opportunities to develop your awareness of your intended career, and the skills and attributes required of such roles through means such as online research, and supporting your families and communities during this pandemic.

Below you can find advice for each course that requires work experience, to help you prepare for applying to university and starting your course.

Why we ask for work experience

Work experience is a way to develop your understanding of what your intended career involves, and more importantly your understanding of what it is like to work with members of the general public in a responsible role. It allows you to demonstrate that you have experience of and understand:

  • the people-focused experience of providing a service, support or help to others;
  • the values, attributes, and behaviours necessary to be a healthcare professional, eg conscientiousness, communication skills, empathy, etc.

We expect you to reflect on any work experience you have undertaken and how this has influenced your decision to pursue a career in healthcare.

Ways you can demonstrate your understanding without work experience

Below are some suggestions for practical ways you can demonstrate your recognition of the attributes you have that will prepare you for the physical, organisational and emotional demand of a career as a healthcare professional. This list has been suggested by professional bodies such as the Medical Schools Council and is not an exhaustive list – be creative about how these ideas or your own can develop your understanding of working in a healthcare setting.

Keep a reflective diary on what is happening in the news and online

Remember the importance of work experience is the opportunity to reflect on it, so a reflective diary would show your understanding of this if done well.

Make use of online resources

  • Free virtual healthcare work experience courses.
  • Online professional development websites, eg LinkedIn Learning.
  • TED Talks
  • Dental Research Journals Open Access
  • Online tools to help you reflect on what you have learnt.

Volunteer in your spare time if you can

If you are able to, you may wish to volunteer. If so, please follow all government guidance on social distancing.

There are a number of websites to help you find volunteering opportunities, and many include opportunities to volunteer from home:

Specific advice for your course

Dentistry and Dental Hygiene and Therapy 

Given the  government’s guidance on social distancing, we recognise that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to gain work experience in dental practices and hospital departments. If you can, speak with local dentists/dental hygienists and therapists and other members of the dental team to find out more about what the career involves, and think about how this suits your own career goals and ideals.

You may wish to read through the Dental Schools Council’s advice on gaining work experience during the pandemic to support your application.


The Medical Schools Council (MSC) offers guidance on work experience for a career in medicine.

You may also wish to read the Medical Schools Council’s advice on gaining work experience during the pandemic.

Veterinary Nursing and Veterinary Science 

Any animal-related work experience you can obtain is likely to be beneficial but we understand that this may not be possible. You may find it useful to speak to veterinary professionals as well as those who make use of the services of veterinary professionals (owners/ farmers etc) to gain an understanding of what your chosen career involves and attributes needed. You may also find the following veterinary specific resources useful in considering your career pathway and preparing your application:

To ensure that all applicants fully understand the professions they are hoping to join via their chosen course, and to inform answers to questions contained within the Supplementary Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), applicants are required to engage with the following:

  • D100 and D102: Veterinary Virtual Work Experience Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provided by FutureLearn
  • D313: Career case-studies by VN Futures

Please see our admissions statements for the relevant programmes for full details.

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