Skip to main content
Home » Health and social care » Careers in health – it’s just doctors and nurses, isn’t it?
Health and social care

Careers in health – it’s just doctors and nurses, isn’t it?


Alan Simmons

Careers Specialist, Health Education England

If you watch a lot of TV hospital dramas, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only options open to you in health were becoming a doctor, nurse, midwife, porter or paramedic. Of course we need staff in these roles, but there are many others to consider.

With the blurring of lines between health and social care, there are many different organisations that you could work for including the NHS, local authorities, private healthcare providers, social enterprises and the third sector.

People are living longer due to the huge advances in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. All of this affects the way that healthcare is delivered and the workforce required to provide it.

Community-based care

Our first port when we have a health concern is usually our local doctors’ surgery. Many of our GPs are reaching retirement and we need 50% of all students completing their medical degree and foundation training to enter general practice.

We need more medical students to specialise in psychiatry and emergency medicine.

Pharmacists are expanding their range of work and offering more advice on a range of conditions. Increasingly, you’ll find physician associates, working under direct supervision of a doctor, in a GP surgery or hospital. They’re trained to take medical histories, perform examinations, diagnose illness, analyse test results and develop management plans.

Clinical and non-clinical roles

Nurses work in a range of community settings (including schools, prisons and private homes) as well as hospitals. The new support role of nursing associate will offer an additional career pathway to progress to registered nurse.

Specialist paramedics are paramedics with additional training in assessing patients, administering tests, interpreting results and prescribing medication. When attending an emergency situation, they can make clinical decisions about whether a patient can return home or needs to get to an emergency department.

We are generally familiar with clinical roles like radiographers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and social workers.. But there are many others – like  healthcare scientists podiatrists and orthotists.

There are more than 350 different roles in the NHS alone and 1.48 million staff working in the social care sector!

Psychological wellbeing practitioners and high intensity therapists are helping deliver the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative.

And then there is a multitude of non-clinical roles including, librarians, chefs, accountants, porters, cleaners and estates staff. Public health is a key area too – helping people to stay healthy and protecting them from threats to their health. Roles here include health trainers, environmental health professionals and public health consultants.

Getting into the industry

With such a diverse range of careers in the health and care sector, there are entry points from apprenticeships and direct-entry, through undergraduate and graduate routes, to opportunities for experienced professionals from other sectors.

Visit for information about roles in health and  for roles in care.

Next article