Nov 16 2021

By Siobhan Swindells, Careers Consultant

Did you know there are over 350 different roles in the NHS? Check out Health Careers for up-to-date information on all career options within the NHS. To shine in any selection process for a role in the NHS it is important to understand the organisation itself and the context it operates within.  In addition, you will need to be very familiar with the values of the NHS constitution. To develop this knowledge there is a fantastic free online course called The NHS Explained: How the Health System in England Really Works and also an excellent series of free online lectures by Gresham College on a range of topics by scientists and academics related to medicine, public health and science. 

So, what could you actually do within the NHS?  The main graduate careers can be categorised into the following:


If you are interested in being a doctor then have a read of our blog post on Medicine as a Second Degree which covers what you need to know to apply including some essential resources to explore and some hints, tips and insights from a recent RHUL Alumnus who secured a place at Nottingham University to study Medicine.

Medical Associate ProfessionalsPhysician Associate and Anaesthesia Associate

Are you interested in a medical career but don’t want to be a doctor or nurse?  If so, these roles might be worth exploring.  They are patient facing and work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to support Doctors and Consultants.  Despite having similar sounding names the roles themselves are actually pretty different! The Physician Associate can work in a variety of settings both in the community and hospitals, taking medical histories, performing examinations, diagnosing illnesses, analysing test results and developing management plans.  You will need a Bioscience degree and then to complete a 2-3 year post graduate training programme.  To find out more, explore the Faculty of Physician Associates website and also a recent RHUL Physician Associate panel event. The Anaesthesia Associate provides anaesthetic services to patients requiring anaesthesia, respiratory care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or other emergency, life sustaining services.  They work under the guidance and supervision of a consultant.  Key entry requirements onto the post graduate programme are a Bioscience degree and a proven interest and commitment to a career in healthcare.  Find out more about this role on the NHS website and explore the Royal College of Anaesthetics information.

Allied Healthcare Professionals 

This is the term used to describe the roles that are patient facing but not a doctor, nurse or medical associate.  Examples include physiotherapist, dietician, chiropodist, occupational therapist, osteopath and paramedic.  They are frontline and many focus on rehabilitation and improving the quality of life.  They are regulated by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and require post graduate study.  But the good news for graduates is that some offer an accelerated route for graduates enabling qualification after a two year Masters (or post graduate diploma). 

Psychological Professions 

There are a number of roles related to supporting the mental health of individuals and families; Psychologists (clinical, counselling, forensic and health), High Intensity Therapists, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, Psychotherapists and Counsellors.  Most require an undergraduate psychology degree (accredited by the British Psychological Society), some relevant work experience and then post graduate training.  See our sector guide on Becoming a Psychologist for more detailed information but also the NHS website and Prospects are useful resources too.


There are many options for management and support roles within the NHS.  For graduates, you could consider the Graduate Management Training Scheme which has a number of different streams ranging from Finance, General Management, Health Analysis, Health Informatics , Human Resources and Policy & Strategy.  Another option to consider is Graduates into Health, which looks at placing high potential graduates into hard to fill management positions in the NHS. 

Healthcare Science 

If you are more interested in a scientific pathway, the main route to becoming a qualified clinical scientist in the NHS is through the NHS Scientist Training Programme.  There is a wealth of information online.  It can be overwhelming but the keen applicants will hoover it up! It is competitive as the scheme offers not only 3 years of paid clinical training and lab experience but also trainees complete a fully funded MSc at the same time.  A clear understanding and motivation for your chosen specialism is critical, along with a good degree in a relevant degree subject.  To develop a solid understanding of hot topics in healthcare and science, listen to Inside Pathology – a podcast series designed to inspire anyone with an interest in science and healthcare.  Also, the BBC’s Inside Science and Inside Health podcasts are an excellent way to deepen scientific understanding and offers inspiration for different career paths.  Then take a look at the Lancet Voice, a podcast that will give you insights into the latest developments in the medical field.  Check out the RHUL Panel event “A Conversation with Bioscientists” where we discuss being a Bioscientist and what it’s like to be a STP trainee.  Plus check our blog post from a 2020 Biomedical Science Alumnus, Anice Aidi, who successfully secured a place on the Vascular Science STP specialism.

If you plan to apply to any of the roles we have looked at, please make an appointment with a Careers Consultant so that we can support you from career exploration right through to preparing for interviews.