Career Pathways for Medical Professionals

The healthcare sector is one of the largest employment sectors in the UK, with the National Health Service (NHS) being the biggest employer in Europe, employing over 1.7 million people. There are also the numerous positions available through the private healthcare, not-for-profit and voluntary sectors in the UK.

Undoubtedly, careers in the healthcare profession are some of the most important in the world and some of the most rewarding too, given the ways in which the health profession contributes hugely to improving society as a whole, making a considerable difference in people’s day-to-day lives. Additionally, it can be a tough profession for example during the winter months when the NHS is particularly busy. However, careers for example, as a nurse, dentist or doctor, require commitment, tenacity and dedication and often training for many years.

But what exactly does choosing one of these careers entail?

 Career Progression for Doctors

After about four to six years of study at undergraduate level and graduate from medical school, students normally move onto postgraduate training. However, at that point it is more than likely that studies will continue in some way; often on the job. Additionally, there are a variety of potential routes for doctors to follow to progress their fledgeling career and there are a few things to consider:

  • Study can be longer if you intercalate
  • Postgraduate training is usually through a foundation programme or via higher specialist training. Taking the situational judgement test (SJT) is required in order to train at foundation level (which lasts two years) It is at this stage that medical students become known as junior doctors
  • As you gain more experience and responsibility, there will be options that will become available to you to specialise in certain fields. This stage lasts two to three years depending on your chosen speciality, and you will either enter uncoupled (specialist) training or a run-through training programme as a result. To gain further information on the types of medical training available, we recommend looking at British Medical Association’s website.
  • You may also choose to specialise in becoming a surgeon or decide to become a general practitioner (GP)

 Career Progression for Nurses

A nursing degree or course approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is a necessary requirement in order to apply for any positions. Degrees will take about three years, and usually involve 50% practical and 50% classroom-based learning. Other considerations for nurses include:

  • The government has recently launched apprenticeships for nursing degrees, meaning you will also have the opportunity to learn whilst in your current role
  • Upon qualifying, it is common for nurses to choose to specialise in one of the following areas: mental health, learning disabilities, adult or child nursing
  • In similarity, as you grow in experience, the opportunities will open up to you to progress as a ward sister, ward manager or team leader

Career Progression for Dentists

Having completed a dentistry degree, (which normally takes four years) and upon graduation, you will need to register with the General Dental Council (GDC). This is needed in order to progress with dental foundation training. Other considerations to take into account include:

  • Foundation training is work-based and a prerequisite for all dentists taking around a year to complete. You will be placed at an approved dental practice and receive tutorials and guidance from an experienced trainer. It is likely also that you will have one day a week of lectures at a local hospital or dental department
  • If completed successfully, you can choose whether to enter a practice as a self-employed associate, or a salaried assistant
  • You may choose to run your own practice, given you the freedom to manage your own working hours
  • You also have the option of taking on further specialist postgraduate training in a hospital setting, to become a hospital consultant or to specialise in areas such as aesthetic or implant dentistry, restorative or orthodontics.
  • Opting to go into hospital dentistry often has a much more defined training pathway than if you choose to become an associate or partner in a general practice