Volunteer at Global Brigades

Work Experience Bursary

Tell us a bit about your work experience

Hi, my name's Emma. I'm a fourth year medical student and I'm also the recruitment representative for the University of Birmingham Global Brigades chapter. Global Brigades is the charity that I did my work experience with this summer in Honduras through the help of the work experience bursary scheme.

When we were out in Honduras we were involved in setting up a clinic for a community there, so this clinic involved a public health station where we presented posters about different public health issues such as covid and we also gave out packs of essential items such as toothbrushes and body wash. Another clinic that we did was triage where we took patients’ blood pressure, temperature and talked to them about why they'd come to the clinic today and what we could do to help them. This was followed up in consultation with doctors where we helped with taking histories and examining patients. We also were involved in dentistry which involved helping with tooth extractions and fluoride treatments and finally we were involved in Pharmacy where we helped give out medications to members of the community. 

Why did you apply for this work experience?

So my reasons for applying for this work experience with Global Brigades was that I'd heard about the charity through friends and I'd always been really interested in medical volunteering and I thought about it more in my future and when I'm working as a doctor I didn't actually realise that the impact that we can have even now volunteering and so when I looked into this more, my reasons then for applying were it just seemed like such a hands-on experience and to make a massive difference to a community and it definitely was, especially working in OBS and gyne, helping with Pap smears because that's something I'm really interested in doing in my future. I was also interested in gaining further knowledge into how healthcare works in other countries especially underdeveloped countries, especially as I am planning on carrying on this volunteering in the future. 

What did you gain from doing this work experience?

So I think I gained a lot of skills from this experience, the first one I can think of is confidence, working with lots of different types of patients in a setting that you might not be completely comfortable in and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I'm also definitely more confident communicating with patients when there's a barrier such as a language barrier, I've definitely learned the importance of non-verbal communication and also the importance of translators if you need them. I also have gained a lot of relationships with people in different year groups which is really nice, continuing through university and also I think I've really gained the ability to reflect on things that I've seen and how that's made me feel and then act on that within quite a short space of time.

What are your top tips for applying to work experience?

So my top tips for someone applying for work experience would be to really think about something that you want to do, so think about maybe a career that you want to go into or something that you just really enjoy doing as I think that'll make your application so much easier as you'll be so much more passionate about it when applying. I also think you should use your application to reflect on your own skills whilst you're writing it and think about skills that you have, skills that you want to develop and whilst you're on your work experience I'd really recommend keeping a diary and trying to reflect on your experiences and things that you've seen and how that's made you feel, I just really think  that'll help you gain more from that experience.


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