Finding your first job in the NHS

Finding and securing a first job in the NHS has many myths attached to it, depending on who you speak to and which blogs you read. Despite this you must constantly remind yourself that there is a shortage of doctors within the NHS and believe you will eventually secure an NHS job.

How easily you secure a job depends on a number or personal circumstances:

  • Are you concerned about location?
  • Are you interested in a specific specialty?
  • Can you work full time?
  • Do you have a minimum threshold for pay?

Inevitably the more restrictions and preferences you have, the higher the likelihood of a smaller pool of suitable jobs. However, it is important to be honest to yourself and find job appropriate to your situation – moving to the UK can be stressful enough without additional work-related stress.

Don’t forget to join our free Annual IMG Conference on 3rd July 2021! Register here:

Below are FAQs that we are often asked relating to finding NHS jobs:

Where can I find vacancies for NHS Careers?

The best place to find job vacancies is the NHS jobs website: The NHS will put their job adverts here and you can filter between part-time and full-time, different roles and closing dates. You will also be able to read the job description and fill out your job application via the application form.

How do I create an NHS job profile?

Click on the register button in the top right-hand corner to create an account. Please read our separate blog for more details.

Should I use an agency to increase my chances of getting an NHS job?

There is no evidence to suggest that using an agency increases your chances of securing an NHS job. There are many examples of where a good agency has helped doctors find jobs relevant to their needs but remember it can also be a costly process. I would advise you to read the terms and conditions of each agency and ensure you are happy with these before signing up. If you have any doubts, discuss these with them beforehand and make sure they are aware of the direction you want to take with your career path and professional development.

How can I find out more information about a job before applying?

As it will most likely be the first time you are looking for an NHS job it is important to find out as much as possible before applying. The last thing you want is to accept a job that is ultimately not right for you.

A great place to start is by looking at the GMC National Training survey – a survey that UK trainees complete to give feedback on their training posts. It has a high completion rate and is broken down into areas. This may give you further information about a particular deanery locality, as well as how trainees feel in that area.

Another place to find out more is social media – there are quite a few Facebook groups for IMG doctors where you can ask specifically about a particular job or hospital that you are thinking of applying for and other healthcare professionals can give you general information about the role.

What level of job should I apply for?

This depends on your experience. It is therefore important to understand the different clinical roles available in the NHS.

  • FY (Foundation Year doctor) – An FY1 is a doctor who has just completed medical school with no prior clinical experience. An FY2 is a doctor who has completed FY1 i.e. 12 months clinical experience.
  • SHO (Senior House Officer) – A senior house officer is any doctor from FY2 onwards up to ST3 or registrar level. In this role you will have additional responsibilities and so it is important to check these before applying.
  • ST/CT (Speciality Trainee/Core Trainee) – These are doctors who completed their foundation programme training (ie. FY1 & FY2) and have started their speciality training. ST1, ST2, CT1 CT2, are all SHO roles as well.
  • Non training post or Trust Grade – This is a non-training job. It is important to look at the level the position is being advertised for to understand what is expected of you e.g. a ST2 Trust grade would be expected to carry out responsibilities at the level of a ST2 doctor.
  • Clinical Fellow – A clinical fellow can be junior or senior. It is usually similar to a SHO role with academic medicine included in the job. A senior fellow would be expected to be at least ST3 or above.
  • SpR (Specialist Registrar) – This is a senior ‘junior doctor’ who would be at least ST3/CT3 or above. In some specialities this may even be ST4 or above.
  • Consultant/GP – A consultant is the most senior role in hospital medicine and has completed their training. A GP is a primary care physician who has completed their training.

Can I apply for jobs after passing PLAB 2?

Yes, lots of doctors start applying for NHS jobs after passing their PLAB exams. However, you cannot start working until you have a GMC registration unless it is a clinical attachment, where you will be shadowing doctors.

How we can help you

Pass your PLAB 2 here.

Pass your PLAB 1 here.

Pass your MSRA here.


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