Subject Focus: Healthcare
Hotcourses Editor

Subject Focus: Healthcare

Step into the NHS Careers in Healthcare

First published date July 18 2011 Amended date October 31 2013

A recent teen survey, carried out by careers initiative Step into the NHS, revealed that the majority of 16-19 year olds were hoping for a career where they could use their skills to help other people,  and where they would never be bored. Healthcare is one area where it can be pretty much guaranteed that a career will have both those attributes.

- There are literally hundreds of careers in healthcare, as anything from a clinical psychologist to a chef – catering (sorry, couldn’t resist it!) even for those who don’t want to work directly with patients or who get squeamish at the sight of blood.
- The NHS employs over 1 million people who care for most of the population at some time or other, so you know that,  if you worked there, there’s no doubt that every day would be different.
- Step into the NHS is designed specifically to stimulate those of you making important decisions about your own futures, to think about ways in which your abilities and skills could have a positive impact on the future of the NHS, and the people around you.
- Step into the NHS includes a website (, and a helpline (0845 60 60 655), as well as an interactive ‘career mapper’, where you can find out which specific careers would suit your individual character and skills the best. It’ll give you information such as what people actually do in those particular jobs, and what entry routes are open to you.
- You can even sign up for a free support programme from Step into the NHS that will be specific to the careers you have selected, and will give you more detailed information as you move on into further education, or towards university.
- Watch any of the short films on the website that star real NHS staff, including ‘Wildlife’, which follows a young healthcare scientist through  the hospital as she works; and ‘Ramp’,  a close-up look at what happens to  a young skateboarder after an  accident, or read about a typical day  for lots of different people in various  jobs in the NHS.
- You’ll get a real feel for what might suit you…and some great ideas about possible careers that may well not have occurred to you before. The world’s your oyster – don’t just stick your head in the sand and go for the obvious option – investigate some new possibilities and step into the NHS!

Job Profiles
Pre-registered clinical scientist
Does this sound like you?
You’re interested in science, medicine and computing, and love using the latest technology. You can concentrate for long periods of time, pay attention to detail and have good problem solving skills.
What’s next?
You’ll usually need a minimum of five A-C grade GCSEs (or the equivalent), including maths, English and two science subjects. Then, you’ll be all set to apply for at least two A-levels (or the equivalent) at college. You’ll need to apply for a science-based degree course at university, such as biology, microbiology or genetics. Usually, you’ll need at least two A-levels (or the equivalent), but relevant higher education qualifications may also be accepted. It’s vital to check university entry requirements well in advance.

Emergency  medical dispatcher
Does this sound like you?
You’re calm under pressure, and communicate very well with others.  You’re good with computers, understand basic medical terms and enjoy working as part of a team.
What’s next?
You’ll need good basic GCSEs (or the equivalent), usually including English, maths and a science subject. Strong computer skills will be required, so consider taking a computer/typing qualification when you leave school. Although A-levels (or the equivalent) aren’t essential for this role, demonstrating further education will always be beneficial. Typing skills are usually required, but otherwise training is on the job.

Student Stories

Name: Isaac Katula
Course: BTEC First Diploma in Health and Social Care at South Thames College
Story: Eighteen year-old Isaac Katula has progressed consistently through his studies at South Thames College. Starting on a GNVQ Foundation at South Thames, he is now enrolled on a BTEC First Diploma in Health and Social Care, and was recognised with a prize at the annual College Young Learners Award Ceremony.
Isaac said: 'South Thames College was recommended to me by Kingston Social Services and I’m very glad that I decided to study here. The tutors are helpful and knowledgeable and provide us with all the information we need and lots of extra support. I’m enjoying the course as it is broad and covers a wide range of vocational units including Human Lifespan, Diet and Health and Understanding Needs. This keeps the course interesting and I have learnt lots of different aspects of health and social care.'
He concluded: 'Since joining the College my confidence has increased, I have met a lot of different people and learnt new skills. The highlight of this year has been receiving an award at the Young Learners Awards event. I never thought I would win so it was a real surprise! South Thames College is an excellent college with a welcoming atmosphere and good facilities. When I finish the course I hope to go onto university and eventually go onto work in a hospital.'

Name: Lisa Saldanha
Course: A-levels at St Francis Xavier College, and then medicine
Story: Lisa Saldanha came to St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College (SFX) from Bishop Thomas Grant School in Streatham, South London. She chose SFX because the location was convenient and she had heard good things about the College from her school. She completed her A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and Geography at SFX and went to St George's in Tooting to study biomedical science, mainly because she was originally interested in forensics and possibly a position in research. Having successfully completed her degree with first class honours, Lisa has changed direction and is now enrolled at the St Bartholmew's and Royal London Hospital studying medicine. Ultimately she wants to work in endocrinology.
Looking back on her time at SFX, Lisa comments: 'I'm grateful in particular for all the support I received in the Science faculty at SFX. I found A-levels hard, but things got easier for me as I got more into my studies at university. Future students need to be positive about A-levels – they're hard, but if you're doing what you want to do, you'll do well at SFX.'

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