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Internships and work experience in healthcare

The UK healthcare sector employs large numbers of graduates, and work experience or an internship in this area will put you in a strong position to apply successfully for a graduate training scheme place or job when you’ve finished your studies. Our advice about how to get a job in healthcare operations and management sets out the different career paths you can choose from.

One of the biggest healthcare employers in the UK is the NHS, which runs a popular graduate management training scheme with a range of options, including policy and strategy. There are work experience placements available in the different specialisms. Private healthcare organisations also run graduate schemes and offer work experience opportunities, including industrial placement programmes for students on four-year sandwich degree courses. Read our advice on the NHS graduate scheme and other healthcare management options to familiarise yourself with the way these schemes are structured and the specialisms on offer. This will help you to take a strategic approach to planning your work experience, so you can apply for internships that will help you get into the area of healthcare management that you want to work in. Internships in healthcare management are typically open to students from a range of degree backgrounds, though depending on the specific area you’re interested in, a relevant degree subject could be an advantage.

What are the specialisms in healthcare management?

Healthcare employers recruit graduates into the following non-medical specialisms, and may offer work experience in the same fields:

  • finance
  • human resources
  • ICT
  • general management, including managing estates and facilities
Our advice on graduate careers in health informatics explains the different areas of IT within the NHS and other healthcare organisations, including information management and project and programme management.

What does a health service manager do?

Our health service manager job description careers-advice will help you understand if this is an area you want to work in, and plan your work experience accordingly. The key skills you need to develop through your work experience are as follows:

  • adaptable, flexible approach
  • teamwork
  • analytical skills
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • sensitive interpersonal skills

Recruiters will also be looking for motivation, and any healthcare work experience will help to demonstrate this. Our advice on skills and competencies explains in detail how to show you’re the best candidate. Leadership potential is another quality that employers are looking for. When you are applying for an internship or work experience placement in healthcare management, you can use your extracurricular activities to help you demonstrate this. Our advice on making the most of your leadership experience on your graduate CV explains how.

Planning your career in medicine, nursing or other healthcare professions

If you’re studying medicine, our overview of medical specialties sets out the range of options open to you after completing your degree, from anaesthesia to surgery.

Are you studying to become a nurse, or considering this as a future career option? Our guide to nursing careers explains the paths open to you and the qualification requirements.

What if you’re studying medicine, but don’t want to become a medic when you finish your degree? It’s worth remembering that big graduate employers in different industries may accept applications for summer internship schemes from graduates as well as from students in the penultimate year of their degrees. Our guide to alternative careers for medical students sets out a range of career options where your medical background would be an advantage.