Published: 17/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5943 Page 24

Adrian Dalby, clinical service unit manager for general surgery/urology, Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals trust

Your reader who asked a question of your Career MOT panel was concerned about whether they were focusing their efforts in the right direction before leaving the armed forces (Working Lives, page 45, 27 January).

The advice given about shadowing a counterpart in the NHS to gain insight into the world of the NHS is valid as is that of finding an ex-military person to act as mentor. Preparation is everything, but a change in attitude is essential.

As an ex-military person coming from the armed forces medical services, I was well qualified 'on paper' with a diploma and MSc in health services management and an MBA. However, there is no substitute for experience in the actual job.

do not aim too high when seeking employment outside the services, but at the same time sell yourself and your qualities. Once in a job, it is about proving yourself and showing your abilities.

I have been out of the armed services for three years and have been a clinical service unit manager during that time. I am due to take up a new post as assistant general manager in Aberdeen with the responsibility of 4,000 staff, a budget of£125m and the remuneration to go with it.

Believe in yourself and your abilities, but beware of the changes in culture between the armed forces and the NHS. Like the armed forces, there is a very loyal workforce in the NHS.

Treat those who work for you fairly and with respect and you will have no problem.