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Medicine and Health

Workers in healthcare are concerned with the health and well-being of people. As well as caring for those who are ill or have medical conditions, there are opportunities to investigate new and better treatments, and to educate people about healthier lifestyles.

There is a wide range of occupations within the healthcare sector, including jobs for:

  • doctors
  • dentists and dental nurses, hygienists, technicians and therapists
  • nurses, midwives and health visitors
  • allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, dietitians and radiographers
  • healthcare scientists working in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness
  • health administrators who work with patient information and records
  • managers, who make sure that services are delivered efficiently and within budget
  • other support workers, such as porters and technicians
  • complementary therapists, such as chiropractors, osteopaths and reflexologists.

Hours of work vary and some jobs involve evening, weekend or shift work. Part-time work is possible in many jobs. There are many different working environments, including hospitals and clinics, day care centres and residential homes, GP surgeries, laboratories, pharmacies, opticians and dental practices. Some work may involve visiting patients in their homes.

Around 1.7 million people work in healthcare in England, with jobs available throughout the UK. The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest single employer and offers over 300 different careers. Other healthcare employers include private, charitable and voluntary organisations, local authorities, the armed forces and the prison service. There is a shortage of workers in some parts of the NHS. Most who work in the private sector have first undertaken training in the public sector.

Healthcare workers need good communication and people skills. They must be able to work well in a team and show initiative. Many roles require workers to be observant and pay close attention to detail. A genuine concern for the well-being of patients is critical. Practical skills are an important part of many jobs, while scientific ability is essential for some.

There are opportunities at all entry levels. Some jobs do not require formal qualifications. Others need GCSEs (A*-C), or equivalent, while some demand a degree or postgraduate qualification and considerable practical experience before an individual is considered to be fully qualified. The Diploma in society, health and development may by relevant for some jobs.

Several jobs involve a combination of on-the-job training and in-house courses. For others, it may be necessary to study for a qualification on a part-time or distance-learning basis. Apprenticeships are available and, in some areas, the NHS offers cadetships as an entry route.

Organisations such as the NHS and armed forces have clearly defined career structures and employees are encouraged to take additional training and work towards promotion. Self-employment is possible in the private sector. Most complementary therapists, for example, are self-employed. There are also opportunities to work abroad.

Why not have a look at other career family articles as they may hold information on related jobs.

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