Medical training can, to put it lightly, take some time. Even if you’re not engaged on the near decade long journey of fully qualifying as a doctor, the time spent getting the qualifications to practice as an occupational therapist is significant, and when it’s over you’re faced with a new challenge: getting the right job in the right place to put those qualifications to work in the best possible way both for you and for your patients.
There are pluses and negatives to this process: searching for a job is rarely anyone’s favourite thing to do, and it uses a very different set of skills to the ones you’ve been developing in your training.
On the other hand, you’re very much in demand – which isn’t always the case with people engaged on a job search, and the systems of qualification, certification and re-certification make your experience and skills easy to quantify and demonstrate to employers.
The main challenge is navigating the different job boards and places healthcare are advertised. The NHS has it’s own centralised service, which you can filter by location as well as discipline, but for such a big employer it can be overwhelming to deal with. Individual hospitals, clinics and services often maintain their own job postings as well, but that places the burden of research on you to find them.
Fortunately, there are plenty of specialists who are set up to help you navigate the system, and for the system to find the people it needs quickly. Finding one that works for you, like Sanctuary Health means cutting through the confusion to find the jobs you really want to apply for, which is especially helpful if you’re relocating, and don’t have much insight into what’s available in the area.
Another advantage of seeking work in the health system is that you have a relatively big choice of contract type: if you’re not looking to be tied down to a long term job the NHS is also host to a large choice of cover and locum roles. There are lots of reasons to be interested in these: they allow you to gain a lot of experience quickly, again if you’re relocating they are a boon as a way to support you and help you understand the area before you commit and they often compensate for their temporary contractual nature with a reasonable rate of pay.
When you’ve found the perfect job, make sure you stack your CV to fit it: emphasise the qualifications and experience that are particularly relevant to the role, and in the interview, be prepared to talk about your experience more than your qualifications. Everyone needs qualifications to practise: what sets you apart is how you put them to work!