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Work experience requirements for Nursing, Medical, Social Work and Veterinary Science Courses

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Work experience requirements for Nursing, Medical, Social Work and Veterinary Science Courses. Contents: Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work Courses – presented by Vanessa Chetwyn: De Montfort University Veterinary Science Courses – presented by Richard Stringer: University of Nottingham

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  • Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work Courses – presented by Vanessa Chetwyn: De Montfort University
  • Veterinary Science Courses – presented by Richard Stringer: University of Nottingham
  • Medicine Courses – presented by Dr Margaret Barnes-Davies: University of Leicester

Nursing and Midwifery

  • Two very popular course areas both here at DMU and nationally across the UK.
  • 134,267 applications were made in 2012 for just 25,000 places. *
  • Increased competition results in a greater emphasis being placed on the students application.
  • Admissions tutors are looking for more than just good grades.
  • Applicants need to demonstrate they have the right skills and attributes to succeed on the course and in the career itself.
    • * Source = UCAS Data Resources 2012

Current entry requirements for Nursing and Midwifery are usually set at:

    • 5 to 6 GCSE’s Grade C and above (inc English and Math)
    • Between 240 and 320 UCAS points
    • Universities prefer applicants with a science subject but it’s not always a requirement.
    • Complete an occupational health check
    • Pass a DBS disclosure check
    • Successfully pass an interview
    • Work experience is currently not a compulsory requirement


  • Work experience is extremely important if students want to demonstrate that they –
  • a) understand what a career in nursing and midwifery involves.
  • b) Have the confidence and experience of caring for people.
  • c) Have used and developed keys transferable skills such as team work, organisational and time management, communication skills etc.
  • d) Can display empathy, sensitivity, flexibility and emotional resilience.

Work experience is also beneficial because.....

  • It’s a great way of seeing what it’s like working in the health service.
  • It can help students definitely decide what kind of health care career they want.
  • It shows commitment to their future career in the NHS
  • Most importantly your chances of being accepted on to a nursing and midwifery programme are significantly increased if you can demonstrate relevant work experience.

Where to find work experience.....

  • Work experience can be paid or voluntary
  • Course placements will be taken into consideration but not as stand alone evidence.
  • The longer the experience the better, and the broader the set of experiences the better.
  • Personal experiences such as caring for a relative should be spoken about but not used exclusively as evidence.
  • Experience can be from a multitude of settings not necessarily just from within the NHS

Where to find work experience.....

  • In a hospital or clinical setting
  • The NHS is made up of 400 individual NHS trusts each responsible for arranging work experience.
  • Students/teachers can contact their local NHS trust and enquire about available work experience placements.
  • You can find your local NHS trust by visiting NHS Choices or Step into NHS websites.

In a hospital or clinical setting

  • Students need to submit an application form detailing why they want to do the placement and how they feel they will benefit from the experience.
  • Competition for places is high
  • Limited number of opportunities available
  • Might not always be possible to gain an experience in your first choice career but any experience in a healthcare setting will be beneficial.
  • Students should apply as early as possible to secure the best chance of being accepted.

3 options available working with University Hospitals Leicester.


Work experience outside of hospitals and clinical settings....

  • Students can also gain healthcare experience in a variety of non-clinical settings.
  • Residential care homes
  • Charity organisations such as Mind, Shelter, Age Concern, Rainbows, LOROS
  • Shadowing of NHS staff in the community – school nurse, health visitors etc
  • Patient visiting and befriending volunteering
  • Community groups – SureStart, breastfeeding groups, etc
  • Interviewing NHS staff – local GP, community nurse/midwife,
  • Other sources of experience....
  • Any volunteering experience: demonstrates selflessness and commitment
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award: Showcases key skills such as leadership and team work
  • Part time jobs: Demonstrates time management, responsibility and working with the public
  • Caring for relatives: Showcases care and compassion
  • Gap years abroad: gain an international perspective of healthcare.

Writing about their experience....

  • Whatever the type of experience(s) the student has, writing about them effectively is really important.
  • Wherever possible students should talk not just about what they did as part of the placement but what they learnt from it.
  • Talking about transferable skills is key to demonstrating your suitability to the career.
  • Link it in to the 6 C’s of Nursing & Midwifery
  • Care
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Competency
  • Commitment

Social Work

  • Social Work is in the top 10 most popular courses
  • DMU received over 600 applications in 2013 for 50 places
  • Social Work is a professional course which upon competition students can register as a Social Worker and begin to practise.

Entry Requirements

  • Current entry requirements for Social Work
    • 5 to 6 GCSE’s Grade C and above (inc English and Math)
    • Between 240 and 320 UCAS points
    • Pass a DBS disclosure check
    • Successfully pass an interview
    • Work experience can be a compulsory requirement for some Social Work degrees.
    • Individual universities set their own conditions for the amount of work experience needed. Students should research entry requirements before applying.

Work Experience Requirements:

  • Universities usually ask for anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months of work experience.
  • This usually has to be work that directly involves interacting with service users.
  • Placements done as part of a school/college course aren’t always accepted.
  • Personal experience of social services may be classed as relevant experience and should be spoken about on the application

Where can you get work experience?

  • Think about who are service users.....
  • Adults 18+
  • Children and families
  • Specific users....
  • The elderly
  • Young offenders
  • Addicts
  • Patients with mental health problems
  • Homeless people
  • Children in care etc
  • Students can contact charities, community groups, volunteering centres, NHS departments, Local Authorities etc

Work Experience...

  • Admissions tutors are looking for students who are emotionally resilient and prepared for the career ahead.
  • They will assess what skills you possess to help you become a safe, confident and competent Social Worker.
  • Students should consider the Framework of Capabilities for Social Workers when talking about work experience.
  • Professionalism
  • Values & Ethics
  • Diversity
  • Rights, Justice and Economic Wellbeing
  • Knowledge
  • Critical reflection and analysis
  • Intervention and Skills
  • Leaderships

Useful Websites

NHS Choices -

Step in to the NHS -

Nursing & Midwifery Council –

Health & Care Professions Council –

De Montfort University –


Veterinary Medicine at Nottingham

  • Minimum six weeks of work experience but the more the better!
  • Recommended: Small and large animal vets
  • Recommended: At least one week in a dairy farm, one week lambing and one week in a stables
  • Six weeks of one type of experience is not enough
  • Get references from all work experiences

Why work experience?

  • Not a tick box exercise – work experience really matters!
  • To gain insight into what it’s really like to be a vet
  • To understand different environments and different animal types
  • Ensure it’s the right career path for you!
  • Shows you are proactive and enthusiastic

What counts as work experience

  • Work experience in abattoirs –some universities require this others don’t
  • Lab based experience – counts if linked to veterinary medicine but not essential
  • Animal charities – yes but looking for practical animal handling experience
  • Office based experience in a related field – good but doesn’t count!
  • Work experience abroad – good but the course qualifies you to be a vet in the UK so the majority should be UK based

Talking about work experience

  • Universities are looking for academic ability AND personal attributes
  • Develop understanding of a vet’s role in the UK
  • Awareness of vets’ place in the wider context e.g. in world issues like the BSE crisis and public health
  • Was anything surprising? What did you learn?

Personal statements

  • Keep a reflective diary of your work experience
  • Your chance to stand out from the crowd
  • Voice your own opinions – you can be critical of your experience!
  • How has work experience inspired you? What have you learnt about yourself?

A student who grew up on a farm – do they still need formal work experience?

  • Yes!
  • To get onto the course you need work experience in a variety of settings
  • They can count work experience on another farm – all farms work differently
  • The course focuses on different types of animals
  • Check other universities’ policies!

A student with their own horse

  • This can count as animal handling experience (good!) but not as work experience

A student with specific interests

  • Having lots of work experience in one area, e.g. exotic animals, is great if that’s their main interest – shows motivation and enthusiasm
  • However, the course covers various areas
  • They may change their mind!

Barriers to work experience

  • Age – some places, like abattoirs, can be difficult to get into when you’re under 18
  • Living inner city can make it hard to get into rural settings
  • No ready made contacts

How to get work experience

  • We are looking for determination and motivation!
  • Cold-calling
  • Going in person
  • Friends and family contacts
  • The Student Room forum
  • Advice from current or previous Vet Med students

If a student can’t get sufficient work experience

  • We will take into consideration any difficulties you have experienced – send information in writing to the vet school
  • Try your best - even if it’s just shadowing or talking informally to a vet
  • Be creative and think outside the box – show you have done your absolute best to get animal related experience

Other animal related courses

e.g. Animal Science and Zoology

  • Work experience is good but not essential
  • Can be in a variety of settings e.g. veterinary practice, zoos, farms
  • Admissions tutors are looking for genuine interest in animals and their biology rather than hands on experience or commitment to a specific career
  • Use work experience as a way to stand out from the crowd


  • Work experience is vitally important
  • Good work experience gives insight into the profession in a variety of settings
  • Importance of reflecting on students’ experience
  • Vet schools will look at references written after students’ work experience
  • Start early!

Useful resources


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons


Vetsim course


British Veterinary Association

  • Vet Records magazine and Farmers’ Weekly to keep up to date on current issues!