A career in healthcare is a rewarding path that will never be obsolete – and as health issues evolve, so must the medical knowledge.
Healthcare is something we all need. Some people require it more often than others but we will all need help at some point in our lives.
People are living longer than ever before with long-term and often multiple conditions, such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease and cancer.
As the health of the nation changes, careers in healthcare must evolve too and the make-up of the health workforce must reflect the needs of patients, says Alan Simmons, Careers Specialist, NHS Careers.
The big picture
Medical, technological and scientific advances will also mean that healthcare professionals need to continue their professional development. The human genome project, for example, will have a dramatic impact on healthcare delivery, as healthcare professionals will be able to predict an individual’s illnesses or conditions.
With a workforce of more than 1.3 million staff, the NHS is the primary provider of healthcare in the UK. More than 1,000 organisations provide NHS healthcare in England alone. However, care is being provided in the community at an increasing rate, rather than hospitals. People receive care in clinics, surgeries and their own homes by a range of organisations including NHS community trusts, community interest companies, voluntary organisations and charities.
With over 350 roles, working in healthcare is much more than just doctors and nurses.
If you believe the popular TV medical dramas, you’d be forgiven for thinking that only doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and porters work in the NHS. But when was the last time you saw a healthcare scientist, an occupational therapist or dietician?
How about staff working behind the scenes including surveyors, chefs, IT staff and finance managers? With over 350 roles, working in healthcare is much more than just doctors and nurses.
Getting a career in healthcare
There are many entry points – from apprenticeships and direct-entry roles, through undergraduate and graduate routes, to opportunities for experienced managers from other sectors.
The NHS commissions hundreds of university courses every year, in areas as diverse as radiography, dental hygiene and dietetics. Competition is fierce for many of them, including children’s nursing, midwifery and medicine. Research is therefore essential.
Really think about whether it is the right course for you. Look at other options in healthcare should you have a specific interest or skill, such as working with children, using your knowledge of science or working with people in mental health.
The labour market
Supply and demand varies across the country and will depend on the health needs of the local population. However, national shortages have been identified in areas such as emergency medicine, operating department practice, neonatal nursing and theatre nursing. The number of training places for general practice is also increasing with an expected 50 per cent of all medical students becoming GPs in the future.