If you want your future to be in excellent shape, work for the NHS

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The Independent Online

You've just spent years struggling as a student to achieve your degree - now you need to find something satisfying to make it all worthwhile. The NHS is a great place to start a life-long career that will use your skills and develop your full potential as a key member of the teams who make a difference every day.

There are over 350 different career paths to look at in the NHS: you can work directly with patients or help to support other staff that do, and you can work in a variety of places, including hospitals or out in the community.

Beyond the fringe benefits

The NHS offers hundreds of opportunities for graduates, and as employers they will help you to make the most of your qualifications in a great working environment. Everyone who joins the NHS is guaranteed a salary that matches their ability and responsibilities, and given every opportunity to increase it through training and development.

On top of your basic salary you will receive at least 27 days' holiday, plus you'll get better career and pay progression based on the application of knowledge and skills, and an annual personal development review.

Other benefits of working in the NHS include training, occupational health services, membership of the NHS pension scheme and study leave for sponsored courses.

Use your imagination

You don't have to have an obvious healthcare route in mind, such as medicine, nursing or midwifery. There are plenty of opportunities in the NHS for people with all kinds of different degrees, from business and management, to humanities IT and art. In fact, pretty much any area in which you are developing your skills and knowledge will have a place in the NHS.

Can you manage?

If you are an able organiser of people, money and information, the NHS has a range of opportunities in management. If you hold a relevant degree, you might want to consider one of the three NHS graduate training programmes in general, financial or human resource management. These enable you to gain professional qualifications en route to a high-flying management position in the NHS.

Other options

There are a number of shortened courses for appropriately qualified graduates to qualify in nursing, dietetics, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. There are opportunities for psychology graduates to enter postgraduate training to work in clinical, forensic, health or counseling psychology. There are also opportunities for psychology graduates to work as graduate mental health workers after a short period of training.

But deciding to use your graduate skills in a healthcare arena doesn't restrict you to working in the NHS. There are other places where you can chose to start your career such as the armed forces, prison service, government and voluntary organisations. Whatever you choose to do, your degree could take you into a great organisation where you will be making a difference.

Beverley Bailey is public relations director at the NHS

CASE STUDY

Katherine Scantlebury, 27, is a speech and language therapist

In my final year of university at St Andrew's I was attracted to speech and language therapy (SLT), and looked into it as a career. As I had a degree in medieval history, I wasn't best qualified to apply for training so I moved to Cambridge to gain experience. There, for one day a week, I spent time at a community day centre for people who had had strokes; I also helped out with children's speech groups and had a day at Addenbrooke's Hospital. I phoned speech therapists who worked independently, and travelled with them to see what they did on a daily basis.

I got a place at City University on a two-year postgraduate diploma course. It's quite intense - you are fitting into two years what is usually a four-year course. At City, they've got a strong emphasis on practical experience - we had placements almost right from the beginning.

My job rotates and at the moment I'm split between the neurology team and the head-and-neck cancer team. I'll get experience of other areas as well, working with a range of people with speech, language and swallowing difficulties, both as inpatients and outpatients. We are a multidisciplinary team, which is really good.

WEB WATCH

NHS careers

You can also call 0845 60 60 655 to find out more

www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS graduates

For the NHS graduate management training scheme

www.bringingleadershiptolife.nhs.uk

NHS Scotland

Information from north of the border

www.show.scot.nhs.uk

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