So you've reached the end of your degree and it's now time to enter the professional Allied Health workforce. You're ready to dive into the health care community, meet people from all kinds of backgrounds, and make a difference in their lives - it's an exciting time!
If you've checked out some of our previous blogs exploring the breadth of roles available to Allied Health graduates, you'll know there are a ton of options out there that depart from the clinical, back-to-back appointment role that people often associate with Allied Health disciplines.
Perhaps you've decided: yes! You'd like to explore your options and see what's out there. But there's just one problem - where do you start? How do you figure out which career path is right for you? How do you choose when there is such a diverse range of job opportunities available to you?
Let's talk it through.
What's out there?
First thing's first - be aware of your options. Do your research and find out what professions are accessible as a grad from your specific Allied Health discipline. You're lucky to have entered an agile and dynamic healthcare industry, and what you've learned in your degree can be applied to a variety of career pathways. There is no such thing as a "traditional" pathway when it comes to Allied Health, and that's pretty exciting.
There are a ton of great resources out there as a starting point for your research. Allied Health Professionals Australia is the peak body for Australian Allied Health professionals, and is a great place to explore different areas you could be working in. From there you can also learn more about organisations specific to your Allied Health discipline.
If you're still not sure where to start, check out some of our previous blogs, where we explore the options that you may not have even been aware of!
What interests you?
Once you've got a good idea of what you can do with your Allied Health degree, it's time to identify and explore your areas of interest. What do you want to learn more about? Is there an emerging field you're interested in discovering more of? Figuring out where your passion lies is key in finding the right career path for you.
In addition to what interests you, think about what type of work you want to be doing. There are generally five streams for Allied Health professionals:
- Practice - This involves delivering direct and indirect care to clients and patients. It can be in a variety of settings, but the bottom line is you are the one delivering care and working with your clients to better their mobility and wellness.
- Education - Provide education in a range of different spaces, and drive understanding and capability of people - including patients, communities, students, practitioners, within academic environments, and more.
- Research - Do you want to investigate the current state of your Allied Health discipline and discover new ways to deliver care? Research might be for you. This stream focuses on increasing knowledge and finding new ways to practice Allied Health roles, or make policy adjustments.
- Management - This stream will see you working in a case management capacity, coordinating your client's care practitioners, and managing the expectations of their workplace, peers, and family members.
- Strategy - If you want to drive reforms in the Allied Health industry and develop new policies to implement change, a strategic role could be the ideal place for you. Insurance companies are a rapidly growing employer of Allied Health professionals, and are expected to continue growing in the coming years.
What are you passionate about and what can you see yourself doing? Do some research and some soul searching, and figure out which of these career pathways speak most to you.
Professional development is key
Your professional development should never stop. Continued growth is an integral part of not just the Allied Health workforce, but any workforce. Start by assessing your current skill set to see where your strengths are, and where you'd like to improve. Consider performing a personal SWOT to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strengths: What do you do well? What are you skilled in? What do you think you excel in, both personally and within the Allied Health industry?
Weaknesses: What can you improve on? Which tasks within your Allied Health discipline do you dislike doing?
Opportunities: With the set of skills you have, what positions or careers could you potentially follow? What training or professional development could you undertake to improve? Which professions within the industry are in need of your specific professional profile?
Threats: What are some potential obstacles in your way? How can that be resolved?
Once you've performed a personal assessment and figured out where your passions lie, you'll start to get a good idea of the direction you should be taking.
Consider switching it up
Have you considered different working environments? Have you thought about experiencing working in rural and regional areas, or internationally? It can be easy to finish up your degree and jump straight into a role within your city, but make sure you keep an open mind - who knows where it'll take you.
Helping people in rural communities and supporting small towns can be hugely rewarding, and will expose you to a myriad of unique challenges. Similarly, international placements can expose you to people with a completely different set of circumstances. Keeping an open mind to different locations and environments is a great idea if you're unsure of your next steps and want to diversify your skillset.
Network network network!
A great way to find out more about your discipline and gain insight into Allied Health is to build relationships with different people within the industry. Take advantage of any potential networking events in your area, including at your university or even online. Getting this additional insight can expose you to different opportunities you may not have even considered before.
Consider finding a mentor
Similar to networking, seeking out a mentor is a great way to gain additional insight into the Allied Health industry and get advice on your career from someone who has already been in the game for a while. Mentors can be great to not only deliver expertise in their specific area, but also help with your goal setting and career planning, and ultimately give you insight that is tricky to find from doing a Google search.
Get some experience
Whether you're in the last year of your degree or you've just graduated but are unsure of the next steps, experience can be key in exploring different options and figuring out exactly where you'll thrive. Consider volunteer roles or internships to get a little taste of the type of role you may eventually find yourself in.
Make sure to also check out Allied Health graduate programs. Grad programs are a fantastic way to get an introduction into the industry and explore different roles, as the programs are usually run on a rotational basis. You get the opportunity to work in a range of different positions over a period of 1-2 years, and get continued support and professional development opportunities.
So what's next?
Time to get researching and soul searching! Figure out what you're interested in, what type of role you'd like to be doing, and the kind of environment you'd like to work in. Remember to keep an open mind and don't box yourself into one area - if you're open to possibilities, you never know what opportunity will present itself!
If you're keen to explore the world of Allied Health, grow your skills, and experience working in different industries and sectors, check out the APM graduate program and pop in your details to stay up to date on everything related to the industry.