Work experience

Work Experience

Work experience during Covid-19

Covid-19 has impacted on how we support young people to gain work experience in the NHS. The past few months have been a challenge and we continue to put processes in place to protect our patients and staff. We therefore have had to reduce the amount of external people coming into the Trust. This has meant that where we would normally facilitate face to face work experience placements and workshops, we are having to consider alternative options.

It is crucial that we keep young people who are interested in a career in the NHS motivated and inspired. We are working on different ways to provide you with an insight into different careers within the NHS, including Medical, Nursing, Therapists and other essential roles.

We will be updating our work experience section as much as possible with upcoming Live Chats and activities for you to be a part of, these will be beneficial to you when completing your CV or Job Applications.

If you need to gain work experience for a University placement please ensure that you speak to the University directly as they will be able to provide advice in what you can do.

Live web chats

We have the following live chats scheduled this month. Please fill out our form further down this page to sign-up.

  • 21 December 10am-11am Stella Osei, Lead SSP Bowel Cancer Screening

The ‘GET IN’ Work Experience Programme

Our Trust aims to be at the forefront when it comes to giving young people and adult learners a helping hand on the road to a career in the NHS. The ’Get In’ Work Experience Programme is in line in with the NHS Health Education England Talent for Care Widening Participation Programme - ‘Get in, Get on and Go Further’.

Due to capacity within all departments, placements are limited and we prioritise local students who either live or attend an educational institute in the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Please check this page regularly for updates on our upcoming Medical and Nursing career programmes.

Work experience opportunities are available for the following:

Educational clips for students

Michael's journey: from work experience to Deputy Director of Finance

Michael Gilham Michael Gilham (pictured right) is our Deputy Director of Finance and at the age of just 37 he has had an amazing career journey. He grew up locally, living in Cranham and attended Campion School in Hornchurch.

Michael kindly agreed to answer some questions in order to help students that might feel a little lost in what it is they want to do as a career and comfort those that might feel a little unsettled in what to do next.

What age did you complete your work experience?  

I undertook my work experience at the age of 15 (1998).

Where was your work experience?

I did two to three weeks at Oldchurch Hospital with the finance team (Oldchurch has been replaced by Queen's). In the mornings I was with finance admin team opening the post, recording cheques, reconciling pay runs and in the afternoon I would go upstairs and work with the management accounts department. I did things like entering journals onto the financial ledger and searching for and matching invoices etc. I was supported by David Long who remains in the Trust finance team.

Michael performed various tasks, ones that are definitely not heard of now

I used microfiche which are tiny little slides that look like old photo frames to try and find snapshots of invoices that had been archived and then tried to match them up to resolve different queries. Times have moved on a tad. It was great going in as a 15-year-old and being able to talk to people about work. You learn a lot of interpersonal skills. It is good to be exposed to a bit of what working life is like.

What was your ideal career at the time?

I didn’t know. My family had worked in the hospital before and they helped me with the knowledge of the NHS. I came back to the Trust in the summer of 1998 and worked a summer job on the bank in finance. After my A-Levels in 2001 I came back again but this time I worked for about 14 months in the Goods Receiving team which receives and distributes deliveries ahead of going to university. I met so many people and I found out a lot about the services and what they did.

Even at university I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew what I was good at maths IT, business studies and economics. They all just sat very easy with me.  This led me into something fairly general.

So, what happened after University?

After Uni, I joined the Society of London Treasurers finance graduate scheme (local authority-based scheme) and worked at the London Borough of Havering – this is where I studied for my professional accountancy qualification. I knew I wanted the acceleration in my career that a graduate scheme offered. I didn’t even know I wanted a finance qualification to be honest; I could very easily have ended up in more general management within the NHS.

I meandered a bit for the first few years, trying different things, without a clear career ambition. It has only been in the last 5-6 years that I have had greater focus on where I would like to end up. It took me a while to reflect on my career and what I had learnt and what my gaps were. I wanted to broaden my horizons and start to think more strategically so I stepped out of finance in NHS hospitals and had a go with NHS England and NHS Improvement to broaden my experience and network. That was for about 3 years before I came back to working in an NHS Trust.

What have you learnt the most throughout your career path?

It is really important to try and understand the type of person you want to be and the attitude you have. People look more at appointing your behaviours and attitude and you can then be trained, it is not always about being technically brilliant.

What were your final steps before starting with BHRUT?

I took up my first job in the NHS as a Finance Manager at Mid Essex NHS Trust in 2012, before various roles at Great Ormond Street, Barts, NHS England and NHS Improvement before coming back to BHRUT in Feb 2019 initially on secondment for 6 months and then permanently from August 2019.

How have you found your career journey in BHRUT?

I like being at BHR. I really like working for my local Trust. It helps with work life balance and I find it incredibly helpful knowing about the area. Our chairman Joe Fielder may call it having Skin in the game because you are working to improve services that your family and friends may need. For me finance is not just about saving money, it’s about looking at things for the NHS that are good for patients and our staff. You start to think about if my wife or children become sick – I want to know that there will be great care and services available for them. It gives you a common purpose for working with clinical and operational colleagues.

The people at BHR are fab. This is the first finance team I have been a part of that has no vacancies. I have 60 plus in my team and one member that is bank which is incredible and it gives that family sense of belonging.

What impact do you feel Covid has had?

Covid has really made me realise that you need to be able to deal with change and be flexible. You can go away and learn exactly how to be technically great when actually if you have the can-do attitude and maturity you can adapt. This is the type of person I would want to find and hire to work.

What advice would you give Work Experience Students coming to BHRUT or using its Work Experience Services?

Most importantly, try to get some work experience. Gain interview experience, and learn more about yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself when you’re going through interviews. Yes, prepare but do not be scripted, be open minded and positive. Try a range of things. You have got to try stuff before you know what you like. It’s nice to have an end goal but you don’t have to go straight there, you can move around and experience a lot of opportunities as there is so much out there. Research into how broad job opportunities are may help. For example, people automatically think finance is all about invoices and payments but actually for me it is more about enabling strategic projects and service improvement. It’s definitely strategy that I prefer rather than transactional work.

Work Experience is a great thing to have, and as a Trust we are keen to support the local population and economy. I would suggest that you get yourself out there, as that is where you see good (and bad) practice, which can be equally good learning.  Meet different people and learn about different leadership styles.

The Journey of a Physiotherapist: Jenny Smith, Team Lead Physiotherapist Orthopaedics

What made you pursue a career in Physiotherapy?

Originally, I wanted to coach gymnastics but the careers advisor at school said that it would be very difficult to make a living doing a job like that. She said until I was coaching at a national level it would not be a full time job and even then I may not earn enough to be able to ‘live a nice life like have a nice house and nice holidays’. I was then discussing with my dad what I could do and he suggested physiotherapy. I didn’t know what physiotherapy was and he explained to me that it was someone who helped people learn to walk again after they had broken their leg. And the rest is history!

Does your job role live up to your expectations?

Being a physiotherapist has been so much more than what I expected. Like I said I didn’t really know what it was. It turns out there are physiotherapists who help people learn to walk again after breaking their leg, but there are also physiotherapists so many different things.

Everyone has the same common goal though and that is to help someone either regain the quality of life they had previously, or help them adapt so that they can regain as much of their quality of life as they can.

Describe a typical day in your department?

A typical day working in Integrated Therapies starts with a morning handover. We meet with the nurses to check how our patients have been overnight and to learn about any new patients who have arrived. We then prioritise our patients for the day and assign which therapist will see them.

I do in fact work with patients who have broken their legs, and other bones as well. I start by seeing anyone who can go home that day if I have assessed them, and then follow this with any patients who had surgery the day before. It is my job to check that they can move their arms and legs, that they can walk, and that they will be safe at home. I work closely with the Occupational Therapists to ensure that a patient can manage their daily activities at home such as getting washed and getting dressed.

What challenges do you face within your job role?

Physiotherapists do encounter several challenges in their day-to-day work. The biggest one is always having enough time to spend with the patients. You always want to spend as long as you can with them but also want to make sure you see everyone. It is a constant balancing act. And as you would expect when dealing with people in a hospital you can often be involved in quite emotional situations when patients or relatives might be up upset or angry.

Clinically there will always be the challenge of complex patients who maybe require specialist rehabilitation or who require multiple types of rehabilitation for multiple problems. And of course COVID has brought it’s own set of challenges. Our role often involves getting quite close to patients and treatment is often hands-on. Respiratory therapists complete breathing exercises with patients and require them to cough. We have had to adapt what we can.

What are the best bits about the job?

Without a shadow of a doubt the best thing about being a physiotherapist is helping someone regain a skill or function that they had lost and did not think they would get back. It might be something as small as being able to button their own shirt or as complex as being able to walk again but it is the best feeling in the world.

What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good Physiotherapist and staff member?

To be a good physiotherapist you have to be hard working and have a degree of physical fitness - a lot of the specialities can be physically demanding. You have to be patient – improvement can be slow to achieve. It is vital that you keep your patient motivated.

And you have to want to help people – the hours can be long (often involving being on-call overnight and working weekends), the demands on your time plentiful and sometimes you cannot help despite your best efforts and realising that can be tough so you have to really want to help and make a difference.

Tell us more about the career/education path you took and the qualifications you gained

I have been qualified quite a while now but when I did my training I needed 3 A-Levels grades B or above to get into university and one of them had to be a science. I was lucky to get what I needed. I went to Brighton University and did the standard BSc which took three years. After graduating I started working as a Junior Physiotherapist (sometimes called a Band 5) and did this for about eighteen months. As a junior you complete general rotations through the different specialities as this helps you consolidate what you learnt at university.

I then took what used to be called a Senior 2 Physiotherapist job (now a Band 6) which was a slightly more specialist role based in MSK and Orthopaedic services. I had this job for around 4 years before getting what I considered to be my ideal job as a Specialist Physiotherapist in Trauma Orthopaedics. I have been very lucky with my career to achieve what I set out to.

What advice would you give students looking into pursing this career?

I would definitely advice doing some work experience and getting to know what the different types of physiotherapy are. There are so many that you just don’t realise and who knows what your area of interest might be. I would also advise be prepared to do the rotations. A lot of people get into physiotherapy already know which area they want to specialise in and aren’t keen to complete general rotations however the basic knowledge gained by doing this is essential. You never know when your patient with a broken leg might also have a stroke!

AS Level students - years 12 and above

If you are in year 12 and looking to apply to medical school in the next 12 months, our three day medical work experience workshop can help give you an insight into what it’s like to have a career in medicine.

Our next workshop will take place at King George Hospital from Tuesday 9 July 2019 through to Thursday 11 July 2019.

Applications are open to year 12 students in the catchment area of Barking, Dagenham, Havering or Redbridge.

Closing date for receipt of applications is Tuesday 18 June 2019 at 5pm. Please note all applications will be considered after the closing date.

If you intend to apply to medical school in the future, Please follow the link below and apply for our workshop:

https://bhrut.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/medical-work-experience-july-2019-application

Unfortunately we cannot consider applications from outside our local boroughs or any received after the deadline.

As this workshop is running during term time should your application be successful we will require written evidence from your sixth form confirming their agreement for you to attend.

Please note we will only be taking applications via the link provided.

School students - years 12-13

School students (year 12 to year 13) who are seeking a work experience placement within context of their school’s career activities. We support local schools by providing placements for school students. 

Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to support applications from schools outside our local boroughs.

Please note: We only offer a structured work experience programme for medical and nursing placements. Medical work experience programmes are only available to students in Year 12 and above. Please do not submit an expression of interest for any medical related (Doctor/Surgeon/Consultant shadowing) or general nursing placements as we are unable to process these requests.

Please check this page regularly for updates on our upcoming Medical and Nursing career programmes.

Important information about work experience

People and young people must not directly contact relatives, friends or employees within our Trust requesting placements or send generic letters to wards/departments or individuals who already work within our hospitals. Any requests need to be submitted by completing the below ‘expression of interest’ form. 

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate any work experience requests for students that are under the age of 16, this is due to the nature of the work carried out in the hospital.

Please note our numbers are restricted and therefore not every applicant can be accepted.

Students are advised to consider carefully what their area of interest is and formulate their personal statement of application accordingly.

The length of placement will depend on area of work experience.

We will not be able to consider applications where you do not fit the criteria or do not follow the correct procedure for expressing an interest.

Due to the need to protect individuals from potentially upsetting situations, the need to safeguard patient confidentiality and health and safety concerns there are no placements available for the following areas:

  • Theatres (including day surgery and recovery)
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Breast Screening Unit

For the same reasons as above there is also an age restriction of over 18 years in the following areas:

  • Emergency Departments (A&E)
  • Midwifery
  • Paediatric, with the exception of the Little Explorers Day Nursery
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Expression of interest for work experience

Please do not submit an expression of interest if you are under the age of 16 as we will be unable to consider your application. 

If you meet the essential criteria, please submit an Expression of Interest by completing the form below.

Please ensure you include all the information required. If you do not meet the criteria or do not send all the necessary information we will not be able to process your request. If your expression of interest meets all criteria you will be sent the relevant application forms for you to complete.

If you do not receive a response within three months of your initial request, you should assume that there is no availability at this time. 

Please note: We only offer a structured work experience programme for medical and nursing placements. Medical work experience programmes are only available to students in Year 12 and above. Please do not submit an expression of interest for any medical related (Doctor/Surgeon/Consultant shadowing) or general nursing placements as we are unable to process these requests.

Applications for summer 2020 placements need to be submitted from March onwards. Any applications submitted before this time will not be processed.

Each expression of interest must include the following information:

Note: Questions marked by * are mandatory






  Yes No
*This is a mandatory field. I understand that in order for me to join a Barking Havering and Redbridge Work Experience Live chat I must download Star leaf on the device I intend on using
*This is a mandatory field. I understand that this is an opportunity for me to better my career and I will be kind and courteous during the live chat
*