With over 1.3 million staff the National Health Service (NHS) is one of the largest employers in the world, and is the biggest in Europe (NHS Jobs).
- Prospects: Healthcare - key roles, case studies and resources
- TARGETjobs: Healthcare - overview of the sector
- Health Careers- an overview of different roles in the NHS - see also NHS Education for Scotland and Health in Wales
- Skills for Health - sector skills council for the UK health sector
- Guardian Careers:Medical & healthcare careers options: exploring roles and employers (May 2012), Healthcare career options (Jan 2012), Career options in healthcare (Jan 2011)
- NHS Careers - includes entry requirements and skills required
- Skills for Health: Exploring the health sector
- Health Education England - information about medicine and dentistry in the North East
- British Medical Association - professional association for doctors with advice for studying medicine
- General Medical Council – advice for medical students
- The Royal College of Surgeons: Surgical Careers – advice and information on becoming a surgeon
NHS: Dental team includes a breakdown of types of dentists, dentist training and your career after dental school.
Allied health professions
- NHS - Allied Health Professions – includes information on roles and entry requirements
- Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) - includes a register of approved programmes
- NHS Student Bursaries - information on bursaries for eligible students
- NHS: Pharmacy careers
- University of Kent: What can you do with a degree in pharmacy?
- General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) – information on training and courses
- New Dimension in Optics
- General Optical Council (GOC) – information on a career in optics
- The Student Room - forum discussing optometry as a career path
Nursing and related occupations
- Nursing Careers - includes overview of nursing pathways and entry routes into the profession
- NHS Careers - overview of NHS nursing roles
- Guardian Careers - career options in nursing (Sept 2011), becoming a midwife (May 2011), and modern midwifery (Feb 2013)
- TARGETjobs: life as a student nurse
- The Guardian: Healthcare Professionals Network
- New Scientist: Health
- Health news
- British Medical Association
- Nursing Times
These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.
The main professional associations for this sector include:
- British Medical Association (BMA) - professional association for doctors
- Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)
- The Royal College of Emergency Medicine
- Royal College of Physicians (RCP)
- British Dental Association
- General Dental Council
- British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT)
- British Association of Dental Therapists
- Institute of Arts Therapy in Education
- British Association of Art Therapists - includes a career in art therapy
- The British Dietetic Association - careers for dieticians
- British Association/College of Occupational Therapists - includes how to become an OT
Prosthetics and Orthotics
- Royal College of Speech and Language - includes a career in speech and language therapy
- Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)
Chiropody and Podiatry
- Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) - includes careers in pharmacy
- General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) - includes lists of accredited MPharm degrees
- National Association of Pharmacies (NPA)
- Primary Care Pharmacists' Association
- Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK)
- The College of Optometrists - includes careers in optometry
- The General Optical Council - includes careers in optics
- Association of British Dispensing Opticians
- British Contact Lens Association
Nursing and related occupations
- Royal College of Nursing - includes how to become a nurse and a midwife.
- Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC)
- The Institute of Health Promotion and Education
- The Royal College of Midwives - includes midwifery entry requirements, making applications and interview tips in want to be a midwife?
Making contacts is helpful for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:
- Graduate Connections – graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
- Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice and inspiration
Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our health professions, general healthcare, medicine & dentistry and nursing & midwifery Twitter lists.
Or see our other occupational pages for more options.
Roles & Skills
The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.
Doctor, general practice
Facial reconstruction (from a dental background)
- British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) includes training information.
Allied health professions
Operating department practitioner
Podiatrist / Chiropodist
Prosthetist and Orthotist
- Prospects - diagnostic radiographer
- Prospects - therapeutic radiographer
- NHS Careers– diagnostic radiographer
- NHS Careers - therapeutic radiographer
- Radiography Careers
Speech and language therapist
Community / retail pharmacist
Primary care pharmacist
Nursing and related occupations
Health promotion specialist
Learning disability nurse
Mental health nurse
Health service manager
See also NHS Careers for occupational information on a variety of NHS management roles.
Recent and relevant experience is essential for most healthcare roles.
Practical skills are essential, so look for opportunities to develop and practice the following abilities:
- interpersonal, communication and listening skills
- empathy and patience
- putting people at ease
- building rapport with a wide range of people
- explaining complex ideas simply
- analysing information
Hospital placements are not the only source of practical experience. Opportunities in care or community work allow you to gain experience with people of different ages and circumstances, including those who are vulnerable, anxious or in distress.
Finding work experience
- Vacancies Online - often advertises paid, part-time personal carer, care assistant and support worker vacancies
- NHS Jobs - search for part-time healthcare assistant or related jobs
- Universal Jobmatch - regularly advertises part-time care assistant and similar roles
- Community Care Jobs
- jobsgopublic - includes part-time vacancies in social care
- NHS Trusts offer voluntary experience - see Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Go Volunteer (NUSU) - offer NHS and healthcare placements
- Do-it - volunteering opportunities
- Help the Hospices - search for local hospices and visit their website to see if they recruit volunteers
- St John Ambulance and British Red Cross - first aid volunteering
- NUSU Nightline recruits volunteers for its counselling helpline - see the NHS directory for specialist helplines
See Volunteering for more information.
Work shadowing with relevant practitioners can demonstrate your knowledge of the role and organisation when applying.
Find organisations that interest you and get in touch always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.
There are a wide variety of places to find vacancies within the healthcare sector.
- NHS Jobs, NHS Scotland Recruitment, NHS Authorities and Trusts and NHS Professionals
- BUPA Jobs
- Healthjobs UK
- Prison Service - healthcare vacancies in the prison service
- British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy - medical careers in the armed forces
- The Health Job
- SocialCare.co.uk - healthcare and social care related jobs board
Healthcare recruitment agencies
Vacancy sources for specific roles:
- The Foundation Programme - two-year training programme between medical school and specialist/general practice training
- BMJ Careers
- SpecialistInfo - GP and consultants directory with free registration required for full access
- Royal College of Physicians
Allied health professions
- BAMT: find a therapist - use this list to see where current music therapists are working
- Live Music Now - opportunity to gain experience before qualifying
- Music in Hospitals - opportunity to gain experience before qualifying
- British Journal of Occupational Therapy
- Local Government Jobs
- Community Care
- British Association/College of Occupational Therapists: jobs - advertises vacancies to paid members
- International Orthoptic Association (IOA) (membership needed for full access)
- British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS)
- NHS: Ambulance Trusts - visit individual trust websites for job opportunities
- Scottish Ambulance Service
- Ambulance Life Jobs
- College of Paramedics: vacancies
- Paramedic Resource Centre - includes a mailing list of employment opportunities
Prosthetics and orthotics
The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) have vacancies on a members forum that requires professional registration.
- Synergy - Society for Radiographers website
- Health Service Journal
- Labmed Recruitment
- Jennie Reeves Radiographers Agency
Speech and language therapy
Most professions in the healthcare sector require specific accredited university qualifications.
For information on routes into medicine see Applying for Medical School.
Allied healthcare professions
To practise as an allied healthcare professional you will need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC you first need to complete an approved degree, see the individual occupational profiles in roles and skills for information on specific professions.
Find a course by using the NHS course finder.
To practise as a pharmacist you need to complete a masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm). This must be a course approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). On completion of your degree you must first complete a pre-registration training year in a GPhC-approved community or hospital pharmacy and pass a registration exam.
To practise as an optometrist you need to complete a General Optical Council (GOC) approved degree in optometry. On completion of your degree, you must then complete 12 to 15 months' pre-registration training with a GOC-approved optometrist and pass a GOC assessment.
See the GOC website for details of approved courses.
To qualify as a nurse you need to complete a degree approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).
Funding for some healthcare courses is provided by NHS bursaries. The amount of money awarded will depend on your personal eligibility and student status, you can find this out by using a bursary calculator.
Find out about the changes to financial support for approved healthcare courses taking place in August 2017.
Many professionals in the healthcare industry start their own businesses.
START UP provides information on the range of activities and support available to eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in starting their own business or working for themselves.
COBRA has factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business. COBRA can only be accessed through a University computer on the Newcastle campus.