Get with the programme: Step into health

With a workforce of more than 1.3 million people, the NHS is the largest employer in Europe. The sector offers over 300 different career opportunities, over half of which are non-medical. For those service personnel leaving the military and who may have never considered a career in the NHS, the Step into Health programme gives officers the chance to ‘try before you buy’. The scheme offers officers the opportunity to access a taste of the NHS via a series of information events, 1:1 mentoring and bespoke work experience.

Julia Watling is the National Lead for the Step into Health programme. “ The programme gives a pathway approach where someone can come and have a look at the NHS and experience it through a very individualised work programme which is based on the person concerned and what they want to get out of it. We offer an information day initially which offers an individual the opportunity to come and look at the organisation. We give them a tour of the hospital to areas that they wont have thought about. We give them a good understanding of the NHS and the processes. Then there is an opportunity to come and do work experience which can be anything from half a day to four weeks.”

Former officer Palmer Winstanley attended the Step into Health information days in June 2014 and completed a two week placement in August 2014. He is currently employed as Director for Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

So what is about Military veterans that the NHS really values? “The key attributes are the tireless nature (of ex-Military), where it is not a job almost a vocation. Ex Military are seen as hard workers and they also have an incredible amount of resilience.

So which transferable skills are most applicable within the NHS? “Adaptability is key as the NHS is so similar to a military career in that every day is different. For example today we are dealing with a lot of emergency care problems that have spilled over into the weekend, then tomorrow i’ts onto strategic planning with the rest of the county. So you are shifting to one area to another very quickly. “

So why choose the NHS? “Obviously, you make a difference. What you get in the NHS is that same operational feel that you get in the Military. Everyone has that unity and purpose, everyone is focused on patients., they all have the same values and ethos that is similar to that in the military, they might call it a different set of values, but essentially it’s the same stuff that you need to be made of in the military. People come here because they care a passionate about where they are going.”

Ted Coates completed 36 years Commissioned service in the infantry. He attend the programme in December 2016 and is about to take up a role as Operational Manager within the Medical Directors Office at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital later this month. He believes one of the best thing about the Step into Health programme is the access to a guaranteed job interview if you are applying for an appropriate role “ I certainly found getting through those initial sifts for a job interview and trying to translate my military experience into a manner that would resonate with civilian employers quite a challenge so any opportunity that gets you through that first stage is not to be sniffed at.”