A Charity offering personal help and advice for all serving and former members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, their Reserves and Families

From the RN to Health or Education - Observations on Career Opportunities from Vice Admiral Peter Dunt

Published 10/05/2017 11:31:00, by John Lavery

If you have been in the Royal Navy for any length of time you will have an understanding of what ‘public service’ means and are likely to have an inclination to ‘do something worthwhile’. 


I have worked in the NHS - as Chairman and Chief Executive of a hospital - for 6 years since retiring and I have found it incredibly rewarding.  People often said to me that it must have been difficult to make the transition but actually it wasn’t - it was very easy.  The Services and the NHS both require many of the same personal attributes:  a strong work ethic; self-confidence; the ability to get on with people; a sense of humour; and working in a disciplined environment.  Perhaps the one quality that makes ex-service personnel valuable in the NHS is leadership; having been in the Royal Navy - at whatever level - you will have leadership qualities that are much in demand in the NHS.  Clearly if you have been a medic in the RN you will make the transition very easily and will probably already have many contacts.  But the NHS needs managers at many levels and in many different areas, both operational and administrative; whatever your branch or specialization you will have the ability to fill many of these posts.   As with many other professions, it might be necessary to start within the NHS in a position at a modest grade, but once you have gained some experience there are many opportunities to scale the promotion ladder.  Finally, if you like working with like-minded people you will find many similarities between the Royal Navy and the NHS. Your local hospital will have an HR department; if you contact them I’m sure they will be able to tell you what opportunities may be open to you.  There are many other NHS organisations, such as Mental Health Trusts, Community Care Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups -and more.  Google would be a good way of finding out which of these organisations exist in your area, and all will have a ‘contact us’ link on their websites. I can recommend it.


Since retiring from the Navy I have been a school governor for five schools, and have gained a very good understanding of the possibilities of a career at a school for Service leavers.  At the top end of the scale, some schools still have ‘Bursars’, but many now employ ‘Directors of Finance and Administration’; these are senior posts requiring a good understanding of financial and risk management, and all the skills that go with running ‘a business’.  But there are many other very good management and administrative jobs too in such areas as catering, grounds maintenance, marketing, fundraising and development, and secretarial.  Schools will be a familiar disciplined environment for ex-RN personnel and will almost certainly also have that ‘all-of-one- company’ culture.  Importantly, even if you are on the support staff rather than the teaching staff, you will still get tremendous job satisfaction seeing the contribution that you are making to the vital task of providing the next generation with the self-confidence and the skills they need to make a success of life. All schools will have an HR department; if you contact them I’m sure they will be able to tell you what opportunities may be open to you.  You will have a good sense of “belonging” in a school - I can recommend it.



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