There are many different ways to get medical work experience, with a variety of unpaid and paid positions from which to choose. Some of these jobs require experience or education in the medical field, and others do not. For those with no experience, it may be an excellent opportunity to determine whether people are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, in one form or another.
People can gather unpaid medical work experience in many different areas at a young age. Many hospitals still have candy striper programs and they hire teens and young adults to assist and support patients. There are also some programs more geared toward learning some medical skills and these might include volunteering at a doctor’s office or shadowing a physician. Sometimes these aren’t “programs” per se, but approaching individual doctors could lead to an unpaid internship, especially for those interested in going to medical school. The various technician and technology jobs, and the many support jobs may all look kindly on having a volunteer who wants to learn a specific field, and people might find these opportunities with some inquiry.
For those interested in paid medical work experience, there are entry-level positions that don’t require a great deal of education. Though typically, doctors want medical assistants with some training, they may be willing to train somebody as a front or back office assistant. Related experience like secretarial work could help. People without experience might find jobs in custodial areas, or they could find some types of assistantship work in hospitals, birth centers, surgical centers, convalescent homes, or doctor’s offices.
More people will get paid medical work experience with training, and the type of experience depends widely on the type of training they have. People can study to be technicians, technologists, medical assistants, nurses, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, emergency medical workers, or doctors. Especially with the more hands-on fields, there is usually practical training involved with education.
Still, many people graduate, especially from programs like nursing school, and find employers want education and experience. It can take a while to search, and nurses are usually advised to lower their expectations on a first job’s hours or pay in order to accrue that experience. Not all experience is judged equally, either. Work at convalescent homes, which is readily available, isn’t necessarily thought of as the same as working in a hospital. If a nurse wants to be a hospital nurse, commuting, taking odd hours, or working on a temporary basis might be necessary to get the experience needed to land full-time jobs.
Ultimately, medical work experience only takes people so far. Many medical careers require extensive training. It’s still not a bad idea to have some background in medicine before deciding on it as a career. Early work in this area and strong letters of recommendation from medical practitioners may be of use when applying to programs that offer more education.