Growing up with the NHS

Robyn Palmer

22 / 1 / 2016 8am

Robyn Palmer, programme lead for ThinkFuture describes her unconventional route into the NHS in this blog for the #NHSwhereIstarted campaign.

I have grown up with the NHS - through my mum, my dad and the care it has provided for my family.

I always knew that I wanted a career in health and care. I am passionate about helping people and was strongly influenced by the power of the NHS, particularly in keeping one of my siblings alive through a serious childhood illness.

But throughout my education I was steered towards a career in medicine, with little thought to the other careers on offer. This was despite having two healthcare scientists and a GP practice manager in my immediate family.

I was accepted into four medical schools, subject to the right A-levels. Unfortunately, and despite my best efforts, me and thermodynamics didn't mix and I didn't get the grades I needed. After a very frantic half hour of checking alternative courses, I landed a place Leeds University to study medical microbiology.

Three challenging years later, I graduated with a 2:1. It hadn't been easy. My saving grace was a dissertation on science and communication, which culminated in a mock campaign to improve understanding in women aged 20-30 about HPV and cervical cancer.

After many unsuccessful applications, I finally figured out how to write an NHS Jobs application and landed a role as lab worker at the NHS Blood and Transplant centre in Leeds. Working shifts was a steep learning curve, and I will always be grateful to the supportive team of experienced workers who helped me settle in.

Determined to move my career in the direction of healthcare and communication, I arranged to volunteer in the donor relations team for an additional day a week. This opportunity was a pivotal one for me and has shaped my career ever since.

Having spotted a vacancy on NHS Jobs to be involved in a staff-facing flu vaccination campaign, I applied with gusto and got the job here at NHS Employers.

The rest, as they say, is history. I now lead the ThinkFuture programme, working with a fantastic team. I love my job and the pieces of work I have been lucky enough to work on and look forward to the next challenge.

My story is like many we’ve seen this week shared in the #NHSwhereIstarted campaign. The breadth of different opportunities and routes available in the NHS is staggering. We now have a responsibility to make getting into, getting on and going further in the NHS more accessible for young people. It's our workforce, and their future.


Join the conversation. Share your #NHSwhereIstarted story on Twitter.

Latest Tweets

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In