How do you transition from student to work life? The ultimate Allied Health grad’s guide

By APM

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It can feel really overwhelming to think about your next steps after graduation. It may feel like a big change to go from working at in-uni clinics and prac placements as an Allied Health student to transitioning to working in the professional world. The good news is there are plenty of easy, simple steps that will help you transition smoothly from student to professional. Here’s some advice for new graduates to help you as you start your career in the Allied Health industry.

Welcome change

After graduating from university and taking your first steps into the professional world, your life is in a real period of transition. It's important to approach this time with open-mindedness, and welcome the changes that are to come. Accepting that things are going to change is a great step towards a smooth transition, and you will slowly find your ‘new normal’. 

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You’ve spent untold hours in clinics, pracs and classes preparing to start your career as an Allied Health grad. The range of career pathways and potential for professional development is vast, and can at times feel overwhelming. Embrace this time of professional and personal development, and welcome all the exciting new experiences to come. Your new role may have some surprises in store, but be open to trying new things and adjusting as you go. 

Start career planning early

It's likely you had an idea of the direction you wanted to initially take your career, which is great! It can be so helpful to have an understanding about what you want to specialise in and how you want to begin your career. But ensure you are open to other possibilities that may present themselves as you progress. 

Create a blueprint for how you see your Allied Health career progressing. Speak to your mentors and others in the industry to understand how you can progress at each stage of your blueprint. But be mindful not to get too caught up in your plan and fail to notice other opportunities in front of you. 

Don't be afraid to seek out other possibilities beyond the direction you originally saw yourself heading. Continuously assess your strengths, weaknesses and aspirations to find the speciality that best resonates with you. Find where your passions lie, and be prepared to pursue professional work in that direction, even if it perhaps wasn’t in your original plan. 

The ability to be flexible is an invaluable skill to have in any workplace, and your willingness to be open-minded will be noted and appreciated by your employers and colleagues. 

Be committed to learning

Even if you feel that the formal aspect of your education is over, you are still very much learning through every step of your career that follows. You can't expect to be an expert in your field right away, so make the most of every chance to grow and learn. Ask questions, and be committed to continually learning and improving your skill-set. 

Your new job will offer a myriad of opportunities to learn as you work, and you should be willing to take every chance offered to you. You will be exposed to a lot of information from day one, so make sure you're prepared to take it all in and adapt. Skill building works in layers - you have to slowly build them up. 

Do your research

Get to know the potential roles you might find yourself in and employers you might like to join. University is one thing, but entering the workforce can be pretty different, especially in the general day-to-day of the role. Where you can, find some shadowing opportunities to really get into the nitty-gritty. 

Prior to graduation, also try and get practical placements in the areas you’re most interested in. This will give you a more succinct idea of what the job itself entails, and help that transition process when you eventually do leave university!

Remain focused

It's easy to become overwhelmed at the start of your Allied Health career, so it's important to create a system or plan to help you stay focused. Make sure you understand your client, their goals and the priorities for their care each step of the way. Try not to get side-tracked by the hugeness of starting your career, and remain focused on each client in front of you. The best thing about your new role is the chance to help people - no doubt the reason you headed down the Allied Health pathway at uni to begin with. 

Keep the client at the forefront of your mind, and you will deliver the best possible support. Ask questions, learn, and understand what they need from you. 

Adjusting to a new routine

You’ve just spent years juggling study and work commitments a certain way, but that will all soon change if you find yourself landing a full-time role using your newly recognised qualification. Make the most of any down-time that you have to relax and recharge, especially at the beginning. Manage the transition to your new routine by allowing yourself time and space to adapt. You might likely feel overwhelmed at the beginning – even tired, as you take on all the changes that you’re faced with – and that's okay! Allow yourself this period of change to find your feet and don't be too hard on yourself. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help and support if you need it. Reach out to your support network if you're feeling particularly overwhelmed, or if you need to unwind after a busy day or exhausting week. We promise that once you find your new rhythm, you'll be unstoppable. 

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Create healthy habits and routines

Healthcare roles can be uniquely rewarding, but they can also be particularly taxing emotionally if you don't take care of yourself. Create good routines and habits from the outset to encourage a healthy work-life balance. Practice self-care to ensure you are able to work to your full potential. Get into a good sleep routine, as it's hard to give the best care to your patients if you’re sleep-deprived. Keep up a social life and see your friends during your free time to unwind and have conversations that don’t revolve around work. Make time for your hobbies and replenish your own resilience before diving back into the Allied Health pool. 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle through mindful eating and exercise, so that you’ll feel your best, and be able to give your all to your patients and their needs. Harbour respectful relationships with your co-workers and colleagues, and build a professional network which will support you through each stage of your new career. If you create healthy habits at the start of your working life, you are sure to maintain them long-term, setting yourself up for success.

Where to from here?

The transition to your new career can seem daunting, but after you embrace this period of change, you will find yourself in a rewarding career with flexibility, endless progression opportunities, and job security in a field that you are passionate about. Take care of yourself, lean on your support network when you need to, and commit to learning every step of the way.

If you want continued professional development, support, and unparalleled mentorship as you enter the Allied Health industry, register for our Allied Health Graduate Program. Pop your details down below to keep up to date! 

Published on Jul 16, 2021

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