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Medically-related jobs outside the NHS

Armed Forces

With the BBC reporting a shortfall of around a third of military doctors posts in 2009, there may well be employment opportunities for those willing to commit to a short service commission (usually for 3 - 6 years) and who are prepared to accept that they will need to do some basic military training first and could find themselves serving in different parts of the world, including combat zones.  In return, you'll have officer rank and status and the Armed Forces have a good record of supporting training.  Longer-term commissions may also be available and the Army Medical Corps provides a lump sum Golden Hello of £50,000 for certain specialities who join the Army for a minimum of 5 years.

Royal Army Medical Corps

Qualified doctors, registered with the GMC, with an upper age entry limit of 54 years, 11 months


Royal Air Force

Join as a fully registered medical practitioner or medical cadet

Pay: £60,000 - £95,000 (Depending on seniority & speciality)

Joining age: 21 – 55 (Or before your 46th birthday for GP or 42nd birthday for specialists)

Usual service: Normally 6 years but can apply for a Medium Commission of 18 years once commissioned

Qualifications you need: Full and/or professional GMC Registered. Plus GCSEs/SCEs at Grade C/3 or equivalent in English language and maths

For medical students: Medical sponsorship is available to cover study throughout medical school using a mixture of bursaries and cadetships. An application for a bursary is made through any Armed Forces Careers Office – Royal Air Force (RAF) section or RAF Senior Careers Liaison Officer. The Medical and Dental Liaison Team also visit AFCOs throughout the year to present information on the sponsorship scheme and provide an overview of the RAF Medical Services. You should contact the MDLT directly for their programme dates and to book yourself on.

Royal Navy

"Practice medicine in the most challenging and rewarding environments. Specialize in a major discipline or explore areas you’d never encounter in a civilian career, such as diving, aviation or radiation."

What they look for:  Above all, you must be able to make safe decisions quickly and calmly, even under pressure. You need to be highly organised, flexible and adaptable, able to perform at your very best at any time of day or night. As well as being potential leaders, Medical Officers also need work well in a team.

What you get:  6 Weeks' paid holiday, free medical and dental care, job security, recognised qualifications, pension, clear career paths and a starting salary up to £52,225

Requirements:  Age 17 - 54 years old Gender Male / Female  Qualifications If you’re at university, you can apply for a Medical Cadetship in your final three years at medical school. If you’re a qualified doctor, you’ll enter the Royal Navy on a Short Commission of three to six years’ duration. You must be under 46 if you require career professional training.



As a clinician you may have mixed views on the value of managers but they provide an opportunity to make a difference in healthcare, by coordinating and focusing the work of others.  Don't expect an easy life! The NHS needs good managers and doctors-turned-managers should be better placed than most to keep patient care and clinical excellence at the heart of SHA, hospital and PCT agendas. Management training (including study for an MBA) is likely to help you along the way and open up wider long term career options.  You can use your clinical experience most directly by pursuing a clinical management route (developing skills in clinical audit and governance).

NHS Careers offers information on a range of options in this field:

Interview with the Chief Executive of an NHS Foundation Trust:


Medico-legal work

There are usually a number of vacancies for medico legal advisers each year, typically involving up to three years on the job training while studying for a law qualification. For information about careers with the main medico legal organisations see:

Medical Defence Union see A career with MDU on

Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland there is no specific career information on their website but provides their contact details.

Medical Protection Society (usually looking for at least five years clinical experience) - provides helpful information.

Other medico legal career opportunities include work as a risk manager for health trusts, in forensic medicine, as a coroner and with law firms seeking people specializing in medical law.


Miscellaneous medical posts

Examples here include:

Aviation medicine (eg assessing the fitness to fly of pilots, cabin crew and infirm passengers). For job opportunities see eg The Civil Aviation Authority

Medical Journalism/Medical Writing (medical journalism has been described as the bridge between the scientist and the consumer and may suit those with, for instance, a background in student journalism; it can be combined with a medical career, through freelance work, or be a career in its own right through working for the major medical journals). A useful contact here is the Medical Journalists Association

Sports Medicine (Sports and Exercise Medicine was recognized as a specialty in February 2005, at the time of the London 2012 Olympic bid and is seen by the government as potentially helping change the NHS from being an illness service to being a health service. In the meantime opportunities tend to be gym and sports team related the latter often requiring travel and weekend working). For further information see the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine

Travel Medicine (a possible growth area, given the continuing growth in international travel with travellers needing advice on immunizations, malaria prophylaxis, air travel, managing existing medical conditions while traveling overseas etc; experience in general practice, infectious diseases and public health medicine are typical routes in to travel medicine and there are various travel medicine qualifications available. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has now established a Faculty of Travel Medicine see

For further information consider also:

The US-based International Society of Travel Medicine
London School of  Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroas
National Travel Health Network and Centre
Healix is one of the leading international medical assistance companies - see for information on the various aspects of their work, from providing medical escorts to developing health related software for the insurance industry. For medical repatriation work you'll need five years post qualification experience, to be adapatable and confident, have good people skills and good availability.


Pharmaceutical companies


Here you can use your medical qualifications and experience to become a medical advisor or clinical researcher, ultimately perhaps even medical director of a company - although you're likely to also need to have or quickly develop good communication and influencing skills, team working, management, problem solving and idea generating skills. Apart from clinical trials, patient contact is likely to be limited.  Most of the big pharmaceutical companies carry details of current vacancies on their (often global) websites e.g.

Astra Zeneca

The best known recruitment agency for the pharmaceutical industry is probably Axess -

NB The pharmaceutical companies will usually take your clinical knowledge as largely read and will probably be more interested in your knowledge of their products, your views on medical reps, how the public reputation of pharmaceutical companies can be improved, and so on.


Non-Medical Careers

If you are interested in exploring non-medical career options, a useful starting point - if you have recently qualified - are Graduate Careers Fairs. These take place at locations across the UK, so there should be one reasonably near to you.  These typically provide an opportunity to meet employers and find out what they are looking for and what they can offer. The larger Fairs may well offer free one to one cv and application checking, as well as presentations, seminars and workshops.

Some of the larger Graduate Careers Fairs include:
• The Autumn Graduate Fair (London)
• The Graduate Recruitment Fair @ Manchester 
• The Big Choice:

For further information on careers advice, please take a look at the list of organisations in our directory.

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund


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