“ Any advice on which specialism to choose: Health Analysis, Health Informatics or Policy and Strategy? ”

Emily B. asked a question in topic Career Choices
to Any Policy and Strategy Insiders

I'm a human geography graduate with experience as an Insight Analyst for a retailer. I'd like to use the skills I acquired at University and make a positive impact on people's health. These three specialisms all seem quite analytical but I can't decide between them or find much out about the difference in the diplomas you complete as part of them. Any help please!

I’d recommend reading the trainee blogs - will give you an insight into life on the scheme in each specialism. Ultimately choose the area you think you will enjoy the most eg health analysis will be very technical & obviously focused on research & evaluation





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Richard B.

I would suggest that Health Informatics is quite broad compared to the other two specialisms and there is a fair amount of crossover; especially between it and Health Analytics. For example, my first placement was with a mental health provider in a mixed data management and analytics role. And, my second placement is in demand and capacity modelling and analytics for a clinical commissioning group.

Though, for others in my cohort on the Informatics specialism, they have been in much more different types of roles. Including working as project managers, business analysts, EHR specialists; and even quality improvement and more finance-type roles.

As such; I would suggest the main difference between Health Informatics and Analytics, is that the latter obviously concentrates solely on data analytics and is somewhat more technical (in terms of quantitative expectations).

However, there is definitely scope to make health informatics more technical depending on your interests. In my first placement, I was regularly working with SQL for querying the organisation's data warehouse. And, going into my second placement I will be working using the R statistical programming language.

It is also worth recognising that the Analytics and Policy and Strategy specialisms are only hosted in either London or Leeds; where you can do Health Informatics across the full number of regions on the scheme.

You can find information about the current educational components for each of these specialisms on the respective University websites. UCL's Institute for Health Informatics hosts both the Health Informatics and Analytics programmes. There is some cross-over in the modules between the two specialisms. While Policy and Strategy do their education at Imperial College London in Health Policy.

I hope that some of this helpful to you, I come at it from the Health Informatics perspective. I will add, potentially unhelpfully, that all three specialism are really interesting and I think that you'd get a lot out of applying to one of them.

Emily B.

Thanks for your insight Richard, it's very helpful. I have experience coding in SQL which I would love to be able to apply here but it seems there is scope to use it in both the Informatics and Analytics schemes. I would be looking to be based in London so this would work for all of them. I guess if it's this hard to decide, it means I would be very happy on any of them so I just need to decide and apply!

Rebecca C.

Hi Emily,

I'm on Health Analysis in London. We are the first year so be aware that there are some teething issues (hopefully resolved by next year). I'd agree with Richard that analytics has more of an emphasis on the statistical/ technical aspects of data management. SQL skills will definitely be used, but we are being taught them so don't feel you need to be an expert to apply.
So far we are doing the same modules as HI (very different from policy) but we will get more statistical/ research training in the future than HI.

Health Analysis is a lot about converting numbers into information to fuel change. Data representation is a huge part of it. If you want a midground between the 3, Analysis might be the right thing for you.

If you contact me on twitter(@rebeccabcollins) I am really happy to answer more qs you may have about HA or the application process in general.

B xx

Policy Management Graduate Trainee 2017 Intake, NHS

Hello Emily.

I'm on the Policy and Strategy Scheme based in Leeds, and in my first year.

I would say that it is important to consider the type of work you enjoy, as this differs between the specialisms as Richard and Rebecca explained above. In Policy and Strategy work is often project based and involves delivery (of policy) as well as big-picture thinking e.g. for strategy development.

A useful explanation I heard recently is that Analysis and Policy are two sides of the same coin: analysis provides the evidence base, and policy translates this evidence into actions (or at least instructions).

It is emphasised a lot on the scheme that regardless of the specialism, there is a lot of flexibility in the types of jobs you can apply for/get afterwards, and everyone completes a Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Leadership during the first year (this is called the Elizabeth Garret Anderson Programme).

Regarding education:
The policy trainees do a Postgrad Diploma in Health Policy with Imperial College during the second year. The Diploma can be 'up-graded' to a masters by completing a thesis post-scheme (through your own funds), and this is true for some other specialisms too.

Lastly, the Analysis and Policy stream are based only in Leeds or London as a large part of the placements are with the national body NHS England (which has main offices in these two cities), whereas Informatics trainees can be placed anywhere in England, often in Hospital Trusts.

I hope that helps, Laura

Emily B.

Thanks for your comments Rebecca and Laura, they're very useful.

I have a flat in London for the next 3 years so I'd be looking to stay here. Am I likely to be able to on the Informatics stream as it is nationwide?




Hi Emily I think you are asking how likely are you to be based in London for Health Informatics?

It is difficult to predict as will depend how many people want HI in London (usually lots). We would always advise all our candidates to be as flexible as possible around location to improve your chances of getting a place on the scheme & to ensure you have access to a wider range of development and career opportunities.

Good luck

Policy Management Graduate Trainee 2017 Intake, NHS

Hi Emily

In short yes, you could do Informatics in London, however you might have a higher chance to get offered London if you chose analysis or policy.

Also have a look at www.nhsgraduates.co.uk/the-scheme/locati… 

As far as I'm aware, mortgage payments and family commitments are considered highly as part of your 3 location preference.

While policy and analysis are only in Leeds (Yorkshire and Humber) or London, for the other schemes placements are in regions throughout the country. However, throughout the scheme your different placements will be in the same region, once your region is allocated as part of the job offer.

So if you get onto the scheme for informatics and you get offered a place in the London region, all your placements would be in London over the 2 years.

However, your preference is not always guaranteed, for example I put down a London preference, but only got offered a place in Leeds. If you have a mortgage or family, I think that carries more weight.


As in the comment to someone else's question above, I am glad I had to relocate as I now love Leeds and am enjoying exploring Yorkshire. Obviously everyone's situation is different though.

Lastly, your location preference has no impact on your application, as the best candidates are chosen and then it's worked out where they go. However the less flexible you are around location can mean that you might decide to not accept a job offer, for it it were not in London.

I hope that helps, Laura x

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