Medicine, dentistry and nursing

An apprenticeship in medicine, dentistry or nursing is a great way to access a career in these professions without needing prior medical qualifications, opening up a range of opportunities to develop a meaningful and rewarding career.
Shevy – Nursing Apprentice, Great Ormond Street Hospital

What’s an apprenticeship in medicine, dentistry and nursing?

Apprenticeships in medicine and dentistry can open career pathways in vital roles which might otherwise have been unattainable, making this an attractive route into a specialised sector. This route also allows you to gain a nationally-recognised qualification.

The potential for professional and personal development for apprentices in medicine, dentistry and nursing are enormous. If you dream of becoming a paramedic, a midwife or a nurse, an apprenticeship can help you make those dreams a reality. There are also many management and leadership roles within the sector too.

Polly Goodman – Level 6 Registered Nursing Degree Apprenticeship, Great Ormond Street Hospital | BPP University

“When you work in paediatrics, the most important thing is to know how to have fun. You can be working in emotionally challenging situations and if you’re not able to smile and laugh with the kids, it becomes a lot harder to build a relationship with them.”

Laurence O’Sullivan-Whiting – Workforce Development Lead for Apprenticeships, Great Ormond Street Hospital

“The NHS is the biggest employer in the country, so we need professionally-recognised qualifications to keep developing our teams. When staff are driven, patients get a better experience and our apprenticeships really have had a hugely positive impact on patient care and service.”

Facts and stats

Average salary
Salaries vary depending on the career you choose, but the average salary across the entire sector in the UK is £30,5161.
Roles
Healthcare apprenticeships span several fields, including nursing, dentistry, paramedic science and more.
Dentistry
In 2020, over 40,000 dental practitioners were in employment in the UK3
Opportunities
There are over 350 different careers within the NHS, making it a great choice for almost anyone4
Healthcare apprenticeships
Healthcare apprenticeships are a key Government priority. Health Education England works with employers to continue progressing apprenticeships in the NHS.
Popularity
Over the last five years, the NHS has had over 70,000 students starting apprenticeships.

Who would suit an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are available at all levels from health care support worker at Level 2 to paramedic, midwife or nurse at degree and master’s level.

There are a large number of roles to choose from in this sector and although many are dental or medical in nature, there are also a variety of specialist support and management roles too. Some of the career pathways include dental nurse, pharmacy support, maternity support, midwifery, associate ambulance practitioner, paramedic and of course nursing.

Apprenticeships are available with NHS Trusts, such as Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital and the ambulance service, as well as in dental practices and local medical centres.

There are many personal qualities which indicate a career in this sector would be a good fit for you. A desire to help people and the ability to adapt quickly in changing situations are essential, along with strong communication skills.

Philippa Burton – Level 3 Dental Nursing Apprenticeship, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

“I’m a trainee dental nurse who used to be squeamish with saliva and needles, so I definitely didn’t set out to do this. I just wanted to broaden my horizons and change from my career in hospitality to one in healthcare, and this apprenticeship is a perfect gateway into the sector.”

Gemma Hayward – Level 6 Registered Nursing Degree Apprenticeship, Great Ormond Street Hospital | BPP University

“I started on a Level 2 apprenticeship and I’m now on a Level 6 degree one. Literally all my learning has been at work. I love making such a difference in peoples’ lives, I often see patients at their most vulnerable, so making their experience as positive and happy as possible really is rewarding.”

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Pros
  • You get to make a direct difference in people's lives.
  • You’re exposed to learning all the time, which keeps your skills fresh.
  • There are entry-level routes, making healthcare roles more accessible.
Cons
  • Working in healthcare sometimes means working night shifts and weekends.
  • You might have to manage emotional and difficult situations.
  • Shifts in healthcare can be long and challenging.

Why choose an apprenticeship?

Providing much needed support to clinical staff, apprentices are an important entry point for new employees in this sector. As an apprentice in medicine, dentistry or nursing, you’ll witness medical or dental care being delivered first-hand and this will deepen your understanding of your chosen profession.

Whatever career path I choose, I know I definitely won’t be stuck without a job!

Philippa Burton, Apprentice at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 

As an apprentice, you’ll receive structured on the job training from qualified professionals and peers to help you develop confidence and competence in carrying out the tasks involved in your role. You’ll also be supported to study for the qualification needed for the role.

The supervision, feedback and support you receive during your apprenticeship will ensure you to develop to your full potential and gain the knowledge and experience to excel in your chosen field.

When staff are driven to improve, patients receive a better experience.

Laurence O’Sullivan-Whiting, employer at Great Ormond Street Hospital
 

Industry top tips

Watch our top tips on how to get into medicine, nursing and dentistry.

How do you start an apprenticeship?