Each year there are thousands of students applying to courses like medicine and pharmacy. These programmes are fantastic for those interested in becoming doctors or pharmacologists, among others. But competition can be very high. Quite often, students have not considered the wide variety of alternative routes they can pursue or, are simply unaware that they even exist. I will provide a guide to some of these here.
When informing students of the options
available to them, it is important that we do not
forget some of the lesser known - but no less
important - careers in healthcare. The allied
health professions (AHP) are comprised of
fourteen different areas of practice, making
up the third largest workforce in the NHS.
From operating department practitioners and
speech and language therapists to therapeutic
radiographers and dieticians, the skill sets
required are often very similar to those required
for medicine and pharmacy degrees.
Some of the AHPs struggle to recruit more than others, such as therapeutic radiographers, podiatrists, and orthoptists. It is these professions and degree programmes that need the support of advisors, informing prospective students of what is available to them at higher education level.
These types of degree programmes are regulated by either the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or General Osteopathic Council (GOC). This offers students the opportunity to spend time on an industrial placement within their three years of study.
They will become familiar with various medical environments and experience life as a professionally autonomous healthcare practitioner. Due to the collaborative nature of the healthcare sector, many of the AHPs find themselves working closely with doctors and surgeons daily.
Financial support for students studying these
degrees is also a factor worth considering. The
introduction of the NHS Learning Support Fund
(LSF) in 2020 has provided students on certain
eligible courses with a training grant of at least
£5,000 in each year of study (subject to terms
of the LSF). That is certainly worth exploring further and UniTasterDays have additional resources to tell you more.
It is important to stress the importance of the role these professions play within the healthcare sector. The work that has been done to bring attention to these pivotal roles has resulted in a welcome increase to study these degrees at university. Health Education England’s campaigns have included raising the profile of the AHPs in the military, including roles as a Radiographer and Operating Department Practitioner.
We must continue this work to shed light on the AHPs. To ensure that they are given equal consideration to courses like medicine and dentistry when prospective students come to consider viable career paths within healthcare.
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