Explore the various routes into healthcare, the value of work experience and the skills and qualifications required by employers

For many graduate healthcare careers, including medicine, nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare, you must be a registered healthcare professional. This means that you need a relevant approved degree and to register with a professional body if you harbour ambitions to work in any of these professions.

If you did not study an approved first degree, you could consider a graduate entry 'accelerated' course in order to apply for certain clinical careers. For example, there are four year courses in medicine for those with a non-medical degree. You can find 'accelerated' courses by using the Health Careers course finder.

Some courses may ask for a science or health related degree, with a significant amount of biology and chemistry. Other courses are open to graduates of any subject. In either case you would typically need a 2:1 or a 2:2 and a substantial amount of relevant work experience.

There are also graduate entry courses for nursing, dentistry, midwifery, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

The NHS Modernising Scientific Careers scheme has resulted in more structured training for healthcare science roles. The NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) combines study for a BSc with work based training in areas such as life sciences, medical physics technology and clinical engineering.

For some roles such as paramedic, physiotherapist and occupational therapist, it is possible to work your way up from assistant level through in-service work based learning including degree level study.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

Employers in the healthcare sector require candidates with:

  • an ability to stay calm under pressure;
  • attention to detail;
  • empathy, and a caring and approachable nature;
  • good communication skills;
  • the ability to work in a team.

Where can I get work experience?

Most undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to healthcare include work placements to enable you to gain experience alongside your qualification. However, relevant work experience is usually needed for entry to these courses and it can be gained by volunteering, work shadowing a health professional or through work experience schemes with NHS Trusts.

You can search for voluntary work in healthcare at Do-it, where you can narrow your search by postcode and areas of interest.

The British Red Cross offer 8-12 week part-time internships in health and social care. Placements are available at their London head office and across the country, with reasonable travel and lunch expenses paid. They also offer voluntary work relating to first aid as well as their 8-12 month international youth volunteering programme.

For details of volunteering opportunities in hospices, visit Hospice UK.

NHS Trust work experience schemes are usually organised by a volunteer co-ordinator or the HR department; you can find details on Trust websites.

To find work placements and internships in the healthcare sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in the healthcare sector?

Jobs within the NHS are advertised through NHS Jobs and NHS Trust websites. Jobs in independent healthcare are usually advertised on company websites or via specialist recruitment agencies.

The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme has options in finance, HR, general management and health informatics. Graduates with 2:2 degrees in any subject area are considered.

If you have a 2:1 degree in pure or applied science, you could consider the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). This offers the chance for paid work while studying towards a Masters degree in areas such as blood sciences, genetics and medical physics. See Health Careers for details of the annual application cycle.

Vacancies for smaller organisations can be found by contacting them directly with a speculative application or through local press advertisements.

To find jobs in the sector, search graduate jobs in healthcare.