You're thinking of a career in human health and well-being?
Read below information on the scope of work, career starting points and progression opportunities!
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Given the variety of roles in which people may work supporting the health and wellbeing industry, and the differing levels of involvement with this sector that some of the more peripheral jobs may have, there is no particular route into working in these positions. General care services in the well-being sector can include rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, palliative care, aged care and others. They involve finding ways to help people to cope with physical difficulties, chronic illnesses and terminal conditions.
If you are interested in the wellbeing sector, but do not wish to work as a practitioner there are some things you could do to steer a career in this direction:
- Take an interest in health issues - mental or physical; watch TV documentaries, spend time reading and researching health
- Take some foundation courses - establish your knowledge through learning and being assessed on what you learn
- Do some voluntary work - get involved with community initiatives like fundraising events, join self-help groups and learn about health issues
- Get involved with social media - network and learn about what types of jobs might satisfy your needs
- Try writing for online health websites - offer to write for free; it could lead to offers of paid work
Scope of Work
Health care services are many and varied. All are concerned with looking after patients or clients to optimise their health outcomes.
Some of the typical daily roles undertaken by people in this sector include:
Reviewing patient notes & physical health conditions
Assessing patient needs - physical (e.g. exercise, medications) and environmental (e.g. comfort, removing hazards)
Establishing treatment plans
Discussing plans & goals with patients
Setting health targets
Liaising with the patient's family (if applicable)
Interacting with other members of a multidisciplinary team
Making referrals to specialists
Arranging hospital admissions
What You Need to Learn
This list is broad. It covers many of the skills and areas within health and well-being work!
- Assessment - physical health, mental state, referral procedures
- Physical health - knowledge of diseases, signs and symptoms, comorbidity
- Terminology - medical terms and meanings
- Practical skills - use of equipment, machinery, materials
- Specific knowledge - e.g. physiotherapy, rehabilitation, palliative care, aged care
- Psychopharmacology - use and effects of medications
- Communication skills - verbal, non-verbal, educating clients/patients, bedside manner
- Legal & ethical issues - confidentiality, multicultural competence, informed consent
- Health & safety - knowledge of OH&S procedures, first aid
- Writing skills - note taking, report writing, record keeping
- Planning skills - organising appointments, planning interventions, working out schedules
- Mental health - knowledge of disorders, signs & symptoms
- Specific knowledge - knowledge relating to your particular role
- Marketing skills - promotions, advertising, selling, fundraising
- Teaching skills - writing & developing courses, workshops, tutorials
Starting a Career
Although it is possible to train in health care positions in higher education, there are also many alternative ways to get started in this sector. Sometimes people choose this type of career having done other things first.
For example, someone could spend a number of years in manufacturing but following redundancy decide that they would like to pursue a career in aged care. Another person may have always been interested in sport and exercise, maybe working as a gym instructor for example, but then choose to develop further into physiotherapy.
If you think that there are roles in general health care services which could appeal to you, there are some ways you can expose yourself to this sector and gain relevant experiences:
- Join clubs or societies which share similarities with your interests e.g. join a sports club if you are attracted to physiotherapy
- Volunteer in your spare time e.g. offer to help out at a local aged care home
- Take on part time positions in hospices, clinics, etc. Such roles may not be exactly what you want to end up doing, sometimes getting a foot in the door so you can meet people, gain experience, get yourself known is what is needed.
- Take some introductory courses in your chosen field - employers will see you as someone who wants to learn
Progressing a Career
Once you have a position in health care services you should explore opportunities to advance your career. In some roles you may be provided with professional training on the job. This can include being offered workshops or seminars.
In other cases you may need to seek ways of improving your knowledge outside the workplace. You can do this by:
- Taking courses - online courses, part time courses or evening courses
- Attending conferences - here you can learn more about the industry and meet other people
- Social media - network e.g. join chat groups which share your interests
Those who are self-employed or employed in private practice should also seek to promote themselves. You can do this through social media, writing articles for organisations and bodies, and offering talks to related organisations.
Also look at diversifying your skill set - learn new types of skills so you can offer a broader range of services.