I go on holiday for a week and what happens? They finally launch the NHS Scientist Training Programme recruitment for 2012, for England (hopefully you spotted my tweet about it just before I left).
This is the main recruitment round for scientists with a relevant degree who want to work in the NHS. It happens once a year, with a very tight deadline – it launched last week, and ends next week.
Deadline is 27th February (I’d get in earlier if possible).
The deadline is noon today for getting your application in (or rather, it’s “12pm” – I’m assuming they mean noon as there’s no official UK definition of when “12pm” is!).
However, you also have to complete online aptitude tests by 5pm, Wednesday 29th Feb. See the FAQ doc for more details of practice tests.
The jobs are grouped into “themes” of similar sciences – the largest demand is once again, Medical Physics – and involve both hands-on training within the NHS and completion of an accredited Masters degree. Even if you’ve got a PhD, you’ll normally still have to complete this Masters degree (I ran a workshop as part of a Masters on a previous version of the programme – 6 out of about 30 students already had a PhD). It’s a three year programme, with no guarantee of an NHS job at the end – but they’re unlikely to invest in all that training for you if they don’t expect to need you at the end of the programme.
- Full details are on the NHS Careers website, under the Training section on the Healthcare Science pages.
- The list of specific vacancies, by location (pdf), is here.
- There’s a really helpful FAQ document (pdf) here.
If you’re at the point of filling in the online application, I’ve had a go at it myself to find out what they expect, so here are a few pointers:
- The online form won’t let you advance a page until you’ve filled in any “mandatory” questions (and most of the questions are mandatory).
- You only get to see the “essay questions” once you’ve filled in 12 previous pages, including all the mandatory sections. Want to know what they are in advance?
1. Your motivation and commitment to the Training Programme
In no more than 300 words, please state why you have applied for the NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Programme outlining your motivation for the programme and what you plan to gain in terms of career development.
2. Your passion for science and/or technology
In no more than 300 words, please demonstrate your passion for science and/or technology and provide evidence about how you seek to implement constant improvement and innovation in your work/studies.
In no more than 300 words, please explain how you would hope to apply your skills and knowledge for the benefit of patients and the public.
4. Team working and leadership
In no more than 300 words demonstrate how you have worked as part of a team and outline the skills you used to influence the outputs of that team. Please summarise your achievements in order to demonstrate you are a high achieving individual.
- The site recommends cutting and pasting your essay answers from a word processing package into the online application, to avoid timeouts (I left it for an hour or so, and sure enough, it did sign me out, losing any text I’d added to the essay questions without pressing “Save & Continue”). There seems to be a slight discrepancy between the characters as measured in Word 2010 and those measured in the online application. I’d avoid going right up to the character or word limit in Word, just in case some of your answer gets cut off. It’s ambiguous whether they’re limiting the number of characters or number of words. In practice, I was able to add over 300 words as long as it was under the 3000 character limit – but there is no telling what the software does when it’s submitted. I’d keep under both limits, just to be safe!
- One of the mandatory sections is your mobile phone number. If you don’t want to give them your mobile number (I’m fussy about who gets my mobile number), it doesn’t have to be a real one – you could give them a landline instead. Even if you do give them your mobile number, you don’t have to give them permission to SMS you, though they keep asking you for that on every page…
- When a page looks nice and short – don’t be fooled! Once you’ve answered the first mandatory question, new ones often appear, as if by magic, on the same page (and they’re often mandatory too).
- As you’re completing the various pages, you can go back to previous pages and change your answers – but can’t advance again unless all the mandatory sections are complete.
- Once you’ve completed the essay questions, if you “save and continue”, it doesn’t immediately give you an option of going back to previous pages. Don’t panic – you can “preview” your answers and it does then give you the chance to “amend” them, which means (phew) that you can go back and change things before you press Submit.
This is an extraordinarily competitive programme (around 10,000 applications last year, and there are only around 200 jobs this year) but someone is going to get the chance – just make the most of those essay questions.
If you want to consider alternatives, there are separate recruitment processes for the NHS in Scotland (deadline is 24th Feb though), Northern Ireland (process not clear but at least some are being advertised here) and Wales (should have been an ad in New Scientist yesterday but no sign yet – try NHS Jobs site).
UPDATE (22nd Feb), from NHS Careers Consultant, Alan Simmons:
NHS Sci Grad opps Wales - ad in New Scientist 23-2-12 then vacs on jobs.nhs.uk - audiology, biochem, genetics, med phys & clin eng—
Alan Simmons (@Alan_Simmons) February 22, 2012