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FEB 08/2017

Three effective ways to gain experience and join the NHS

Recruitment Consultant Josh Wood works closely with NHS trusts to fill roles for physiotherapists, pharmacists and dentists. We caught up with Josh to find out how an applicant with no previous experience of working in an NHS hospital can secure a job in the NHS. 

NHS sign

In my experience, there are a lot of allied healthcare professionals who have a desire to work in the NHS but struggle to get a foot in the door, despite the fact that they are more than qualified. This lack of NHS experience can be disheartening, especially when CV’s are rejected. Please be assured that this is quite common, but with my suggestions you could gain valuable experience to get you a step closer to a role in the NHS. 

1. Job shadowing

If you’re going to do one thing, job shadowing should be it. Getting hands-on experience with your profession in an NHS setting is invaluable as it shows a manager that you’re serious about your NHS career. 

When you are looking for a job, get as much experience as you can, in as many different trusts and departments. One of my candidates spent an entire year shadowing a team and due to all of their hard work, they’re now working in the NHS.

The downside is that you won’t get paid. Some people may not have the luxury of having lots of free time but if can only devote one evening or weekend a week, it will pay dividends.

The best way to set this up is to call your local NHS trust and ask to speak to their HR or staffing department. If they are unable to organise job shadowing for you, then ask for the email addresses of a few of the managers. A polite and brief email with a quality CV attached will go a long way. 

Wait two weeks for the manager to reply as they don’t get a lot of time to respond to emails. If you’ve not heard back by then, call the department directly to see if you can arrange a face-to-face meeting. 

2. Apply for assistant-level roles

It’s surprising how many people don’t think about working in the NHS as an assistant or junior grade. While you may earn less, it’s a fantastic way to jumpstart your career.

Securing a role as an assistant or another junior position means that you’ve got direct access to the managers who are usually the same people responsible for hiring senior grades of staff. 

Often professionals that start working in an assistant role are offered a senior position in their field. It’s a perfect way to gain experience and prove your skills, without having to donate your time for free.

3. Move around and work as a locum 

NHS jobs in the UK’s biggest cities are extremely popular and so competition for every role is fierce. Until you have more experience you're unlikely to be able to secure a position in some of the larger hospitals. However, there are a lot of trusts located in remote areas of the country that struggle with their recruitment. I know this because I help them to fill these jobs. 

If you’re relocating from overseas or if you are interested in working in a rural setting, a few months in a locum position could be ideal. NHS trusts can usually offer accommodation on-site at reasonable rates.

Get in touch

If you’ve tried everything above and you’re still struggling to find work, please get in touch with me. At Medacs Healthcare, we have a consultant who specialises in every aspect of healthcare so if I can't help you, we'll have someone who can. 

You can contact me on 01785 256605 or by emailing

You can also keep up to date with me on LinkedIn or Facebook

Written by Josh Wood

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