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Finding your first job in the NHS

Finding and securing your 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 graduate job as long as you are properly qualified. 

How easily you secure a job depends on a number of 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.

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


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Where can I find vacancies for NHS Careers?

The best place to find job vacancies is the NHS jobs website: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk. 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. Some agencies may have different entry requirements or assessment styles that they use to help place you. For instance, some have you attend an assessment centre before they find a graduate job that suits you and your circumstances. If you have any doubts about their processes, 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 are the entry requirements for NHS jobs?

For most NHS jobs in which you’ll be working with patients, you’ll need to pass a DBS test.

If you are from a non English-speaking country, you’ll need to demonstrate that you can speak and understand English to the appropriate level. You can do this through several means, including by passing an IELTS test or holding a degree that was taught in English. 

Depending on the role itself, you’ll need to show that you’re qualified to an appropriate level, by proving that you have passed the proper medical exam or completed the proper degree(s) for the position. This will be listed on the job specification. In some cases, you may also be required to show that you have completed work experience.

The NHS entry requirements are different depending on which type of job you are looking for. For example, if you are looking to start an NHS career within a certain specialism then you’ll need to meet specific requirements to do with this. 

What is a NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme?

There are several graduate programmes which are designed to help medical graduates to specialise or improve on their current knowledge and skills. 

The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme is a programme that is designed for people who wish to take on senior management healthcare roles within the public sector. 

This is a fast-track scheme, designed to give graduates an introduction to health service management. This programme is designed to give people hands-on work experience of all areas of healthcare management including what it is like to effectively managing and mentoring staff in the health and care services, health-specific financial management and an introduction to navigating health policy implemented by the department of health. At the end of the scheme, graduates should have a rounded knowledge of what it means to take on a senior management position within the NHS. 

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, your start date must fall after you have completed your GMC registration unless you are applying for 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.

Other blogs that may be useful

Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Dr Aman Arora is a GP who is now 100% committed to transforming medical education, helping doctors across the globe to ace their exams and enhance their careers. He is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners). Previous roles include:

  • GP Training Programme Director
  • NHS GP Appraiser
  • GMC PLAB 2 Examiner
  • GP Recruitment Examiner
  • GP Recruitment Question-writer
  • HEWM IMG Board Member
  • HEWM Advanced MRCGP AKT Trainer

Author Bio — Dr Pooja Arora

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, passionately focusing on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. Previous roles include:

  • Vice Chair Birmingham LMC
  • BMA Council Member
  • BMA General Practitioners Committee elected representative 
  • BMA Sessional GP Committee elected representative 
  • BMA National Deputy Policy lead for working at scale
  • HEE GP Ambassador
  • HEE GP Stage 3 Assessor
  • RCGP Midland Faculty AiT representative

* Blogs written by Dr Aman and Dr Pooja Arora are not for professional, financial or medical advice. Please seek appropriate professional, legal or financial advice where appropriate *


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