Research Roles Within The NHS

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Academics with a specialism in the field of medicine or biology may find employment outside of Higher Education in the NHS. The NHS employs over 2.1 million people in the UK in total, including over 3750 clinical academics. It can be a very rewarding field to work in, with many opportunities for career development and the chance to have a direct impact on healthcare in the community and across the nation.

Careers in the NHS

Those with research experience (PhD students) and a strong science or medicine background can find work in clinical research for the NHS, especially in the area of biochemistry and related fields. Healthcare Science in the NHS encompasses a variety of jobs that will likely appeal to academics who want to move away from work in Higher Education. Opportunities in every field of healthcare are available, and a strong science degree is essential if you are to apply.

The NHS operates a graduate training scheme in management. The requirements include a degree with second class honours, or a postgraduate qualification. Management in the NHS combines leadership skills with health care management techniques.

Typical jobs in the NHS for graduates include:

  • Clinical research fellow
  • Consultant
  • Clinical academic
  • Therapist and related roles

Finding a job in the NHS

The NHS website offers a great deal of useful information for potential employees. You might also want to examine your prospects through the 'What Can I Do With My Degree?' website. The graduate scheme can be applied for directly.

Research positions are regularly advertised on in the 'Health and Medical' section. You can also find out about jobs on the websites of individual hospitals (although most positions will also be advertised on the main NHS website, or external sites such as

Benefits of working for the NHS

Working in research and scientific roles in the NHS requires making use of the investigative and analytical skills that are gained from PhD study. Many people who have made the move from academia to the NHS cite the direct connection to patient care and the practical nature of the work as being positive factors. It can be rewarding to see theoretical study come to fruition in real terms. 

NHS salary scales are relatively good; remuneration for a Biomedical Scientist, for example, can rise as high as £65,000 at senior levels, while consultants can expect a salary nearer the £100,000 mark.

Former academics and PhD/Postgraduate students have skills and experience that are prized in NHS roles such as:

  • Research experience
  • Analytical thinking
  • Carrying out work independently
  • Handling sensitive information
  • Communication skills (writing, presenting findings etc.)

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