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Why You Should Consider a Career within the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) was launched in the UK in 1948, with the intention being that good healthcare should be available to everybody - regardless of wealth.
Fast forward to 2016 and, according to Statista, the NHS is the fifth biggest employer in the world with a workforce of over 1.7 million.
As the only UK company in the top 10, the statistics show that the NHS can be an extremely rewarding job option for many people.
The job roles on offer in the NHS are more than just doctors and nurses – they are also administrators, clinical coders, IT contractors, caterers… the list goes on. With more than 300 different roles on offer, chances are that whatever industry you’re wanting to work in, it’s covered in some aspect within the NHS.
Whilst doctors may be the face of the brand, there’s so much more going on behind the scenes that people don’t realise. As one example, those looking for an IT career probably wouldn’t think of the NHS as their first port of call. However, with IT operations, database developers, business analysts and project manager roles going, the NHS sure has need of IT professionals.
As one of the top employers in the world, working in the NHS isn’t an opportunity that should be ignored.
If it’s an option to you, here is why you should consider crafting a career within the NHS.
One of the greatest benefits to working in the NHS is the flexibility that comes with it.
The NHS is committed to allowing their employees the opportunity to request flexible working arrangements in order to help staff manage their wellbeing and work/life balance.
Flexitime can be the perfect option for working parents as it means that staff can decide on their start and finish time, based on an agreed number of hours. Compressed working weeks mean that you are able to work your allocated hours in a smaller block, for example 35 hours over 4 days instead of 5.
Learning and Development
The training and development of staff is one of the core priorities for the NHS.
When you start your role, you’ll be given a personal development plan which will mean that both you and your employer are able to see how well you’re doing and whether you’re on the right track.
The NHS actively encourages its staff to continue to study for work-related qualifications - also offering study leave for those who need the time to revise. No matter whether you start your career in the NHS at entry level or in a managerial position, you’ll have access to the training and tools you’ll need to help you advance your career and get the best out of your job role.
See our page on Lifelong Learning for more.
As the health and wellbeing of all staff is important within the NHS, you’ll have access to some of the best support available.
The NHS 2015 Staff Survey found that 89% of staff agreed that the organisation was taking positive action when it came to employee health and wellbeing. Many services operating within the NHS will offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is a free and confidential counselling and support service.
The programme isn’t limited to just work-related issues either. With just a phone call, staff are able to access a wide range of information and services including legal aid, financial assistance and counsellors for things going on outside of work.
Being part of one of the biggest companies in the world comes with many benefits.
For starters, NHS staff are entitled to a number of different discounts - with many coming from supermarkets and high street stores, and even insurance and holidays.
At the start of your job in the NHS, you will be entitled to 27 days holiday plus 8 public holidays off work. After 5 years within the NHS, this will increase to 29 days, whilst after 10 years you’ll be able to have 33 days holiday.
Everyone in the NHS starts on a salary that matches their abilities and responsibilities as well as the requirements of the job role. Through training and career development, this will only increase.
An entry-level position can start at around £15,200, whilst the most experienced senior roles can lead to a salary of up to £99,500. Work hard and continue to expand on your skillset, and it’ll pay well to work in the NHS.
Working for something meaningful
Working at the NHS can be incredibly satisfying, purely just by knowing that what you’re doing and what you’re part of is meaningful and helping many people.
Whatever section of the NHS you choose to work in, you’ll be part of a talented and caring team who are passionate about their role.
How to Get a Job Within The NHS?
Now that you’ve seen some of the many benefits that come with working in healthcare - how can you get started on your career in the NHS?
A good way to get started is to invest time and effort into work experience and relevant apprenticeships. These can provide excellent stepping stones into the various careers within the organisation whilst also gaining vital hands-on experience of what the organisation and job role has to offer.
It’s also vital that you have a number of transferrable skills to back up your application, such as good time management, having a sympathetic manner, being able to problem solve and also being able to handle the workload that comes with working for a big organisation. You’ll also need to have great language and numerical skills.
If you’re only just starting your career or deciding on a career shift, the NHS can be a great organisation to work for - whether it’s in accounting, IT, catering or any of the many other departments. With good grades and relevant work experience, you should be suitable to apply for an entry-level job.
Those only just beginning can still continue to study alongside working, whilst the flexibility offers up a helpful solution to those with a busy life outside of work.
What are you waiting for? The NHS is waiting for you.
About the Author
Mark Cherry is the Operations Manager at GoToJobBoard, which specialises in non-medical roles within the National Health Service.