Why start the Bristol PLUS Award despite a challenging Health Sciences degree?

Hello prospective Bristol PLUS Award achievers! I’m Lana Henry and I’m a fourth-year Veterinary Science student who’s now working as a PLUS Award Ambassador.

I completed my PLUS Award in the 2021/2022, and am here to answer the age-old question: is it worth taking on the PLUS Award despite a busy degree?

Why did I start the Bristol PLUS Award despite the heavy workload of my degree?

It’s no secret that it takes a lot of hard work and many hours spent anchored to a desk to finish medicine, veterinary and dentistry degrees. It’s also no secret that a lot of us find it overwhelming and daunting. So why would you add anything else to your schedule, let alone an employability award that 5% of Bristol students achieve each year?

We all know the answer: it’s because anyone taking on a Health Sciences degree has an insatiable passion for developing new skills.

The PLUS Award is the perfect opportunity for us to develop those softer skills that we don’t get much time dedicated to on our courses.

How I filled my 70 hours of experience

When I started my PLUS Award journey in second year, I was looking for activities that would boost my confidence. I chose to tutor English and became a course representative for my year.

Both activities pushed me out of my comfort zone and rapidly increased my confidence; much like the compulsory first-year lambing placement.

Since then, I have pushed myself further by taking a work experience placement in South Africa.

This is something that I may never have had the confidence to do without my PLUS Award experience, so I’m keen to encourage others to get involved.

Four ideas for activities that complement medical, veterinary and dentistry studies:

  • Tutoring any subject. This will equip you with the teaching skills that you’ll need later in your career to guide students.
  • Volunteering for a charity related to your area of expertise. For example, veterinary students could benefit from volunteering with the Bristol Paws Project, a charity that assists those from disadvantaged backgrounds to access veterinary care for their animals.
  • Working on a research project or interning in laboratories. This will give you a great opportunity to network with academics in your field. Remember that your experiences can only count towards the Bristol PLUS if they are extracurricular, i.e. not used towards your degree.
  • Taking on a position of responsibility, such as becoming a course representative or society committee member. I cannot recommend this option enough. It will provide a break from your studies, enabling you to get involved with the university’s wider community and meet others outside your course.

Final thoughts

All extracurricular experiences from any point of your course, anywhere in the world can be used for your PLUS Award.

This means that if you already have a part-time job, volunteer or take part in extra-curriculars that could count towards the PLUS Award, you’re already halfway to achieving it! Why not get recognised for your skills?

The PLUS Award is a great opportunity to build skills and confidence, make new friends and showcase to employers that you went above and beyond your degree.

Ready to get started?

To achieve the PLUS Award in 2023-24, you must:

  • Attend an Introductory Talk and complete the registration form by 12 noon Monday 12 February.
  • Log your evidence and achieve by 12 noon Friday 7 June.

Find out more and register through the PLUS Award registration pathway