University Tips Blog
Image of a cushion in the shape of a heart
A headshot image of the author, Marc Alner

by Marc Alner

Student Engagement and Recruitment Manager at Birmingham City University

posted on 2 May '23

A guide to alternative careers in healthcare: introducing the allied health professions

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.

What are the allied health professions?

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.

Image of three students on a healthcare course

Financial support for health programmes

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.

Prefer to listen?

Check out a guide to studying Medicine in Episode 13 of The Uni Guide podcast. A medicine special!

Get email alerts when new blogs are posted

This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.

Recommended blogs

Cookie Policy    X