If you’re in the final year of your Allied Health degree, it’s an exciting time. You’re about to undertake your last classes, complete your final pracs and exams, and step out into the world as an Allied Health professional. You might be excited, you might feel a little daunted, but graduation is coming and, if you're in your final year, there's no time like the present to get yourself future-ready.
Here's the thing - continued professional development is a must in all Allied Health professions. If you're not learning, you're not growing, and you should never stop growing. This is especially true at the beginning of your career. You need to make sure your knowledge, expertise, and competence are being broadened, in addition to developing your soft skills further. In a career field that is dedicated to helping people, becoming the best version of yourself is important, and it pays off to start early.
So - how do you prepare yourself for the big wide world of health care? Don't worry - we've got you covered.
Create SMART goals for yourself
SMART goals are the key to actually making your dreams into a reality (as cheesy as that sounds). SMART means that goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
So, let's say you want to get some volunteering experience under your belt before graduation. What would your SMART goal be?
- Specific: What exactly do you want? Is there a specific organisation or area you want to volunteer in? What do you want to accomplish with this goal? Do a bit of soul-searching and actual research to figure out exactly where you want to do your volunteer work and why this goal is important to you.
- Measurable: How long will this take? How will you measure success? Perhaps you want to complete a certain number of days or weeks in your volunteer role. Or maybe you'll measure success through feedback from those managing you as a volunteer.
- Achievable: Be realistic with your goal. How can you accomplish it? What other factors come into play? If your goal is to complete 100 hours of volunteer work, that may be a little unattainable when you take your studies, other jobs, and social commitments into consideration. Don't overextend yourself to the point where it's simply unrealistic.
- Relevant: Is this worthwhile? Think about your overarching career goals and what you want out of your professional life. Will this help you reach it?
- Timely: Set yourself a deadline for this goal, but also ask yourself if your goal is realistic within the time constraints you're working with.
SMART goals are a great way to make sure you're taking actionable steps into your bigger plan, and allow you to focus your efforts on something specific and attainable.
Get some hands-on experience
Speaking of volunteering, that's not a bad idea! It's always great to get some hands-on experience in your field, and we don't just mean in your pracs. Consider taking on jobs or volunteer roles that are not directly related to your specific Allied Health profession - you might be surprised at the unexpected things you find.
Branching out and getting a little taster of the different avenues Allied Health has to offer can sometimes reveal unrealised passions or areas of interest you may never have considered. Get out there and see what you can find!
Start applying to grad programs early
Grad programs often open up their applications pretty early in the year to allow time for their recruitment process. While grad programs are definitely not essential in your success as an Allied Health professional, they are an absolutely fantastic way to get a foot in the door of the industry and gain some hands-on experience, all while being educated by the experts. They also give you the potential to rotate through different roles and areas, meaning you can explore different career pathways and figure out which one is best for you - especially if you're not sure where you want to end up.
We've just launched APM's Allied Health graduate program - check out the details and register your interest while you're here!
Network network network!
Now is the time to take advantage of all those events your uni has to offer. It's a great opportunity to meet other Allied Health practitioners as well as members of the student community. Forming connections can be a great way to stay on top of the industry and gain some valuable insight into your field, whatever that may be. It might also expose you to some areas of Allied Health you hadn't really considered before, which is always exciting!
It's also a good way to get some fresh perspectives on things. Having a network means you can exchange information and insight with one another, and reach out for help when you need it. It can help build your confidence, so by the time you reach graduation, you're ready to tackle the big wide world of Allied Health.
Consider a mentor
Making that transition from student life to professional life can be a tricky one to navigate, so it can help to find a mentor to guide you through. A mentor could really be anyone in the industry, and the right mentoring connection can be a powerful part of your professional growth. Not only will you be learning from somebody who is experienced and knowledgeable, but you'll also receive encouragement, support, and actionable strategies in developing your career.
So how do you get one?
It kind of relates to everything we've talked about so far, especially in regards to your SMART goals. What do you want to get out of your final year and your professional life? Knowing that will help you seek out a mentor that will help you achieve these goals. And the more specific you are, the easier it will be to scope out a mentor that's right for you. Your mentor could be a university tutor, someone within the industry that you've met while networking, or even somebody you look up to that you've connected with on LinkedIn or the like.
Do you need insurance?
This is a pretty important one, and something your university lecturers have probably been through, but definitely worth repeating - what insurance do you need?
As an Allied Health professional, you have a duty of care to your patients and clients - but accidents can happen, and you need to make sure you're protected should anything go wrong.
The type of insurance you need may differ slightly depending which profession you're in but, generally speaking, most Allied Health practitioners will need Professional Indemnity Insurance. This protects you and the business you're working for from any legal action taken against you. You may think it's a highly unlikely event, but you just never know - and it pays to be prepared.
Other insurance you may potentially need is Public Liability and Products Liability insurance, but this depends on the type of work you're undertaking. Make sure you do your research and consult with insurance companies if need be to make sure you have the right cover for you. Or, if you don’t want to think about insurance, join one of APM’s brands – they cover your insurance needs as part of your employment!
Seek out career advice
We've said it before and we'll say it again - take advantage of university services while you've still got the chance! You're lucky to have a ton of resources at your fingertips at uni, including people who are there to give you advice on your academic life and future career. If you're not sure about your career path or want some more in-depth info, make sure you're hitting up the services available to you.
In addition, take advantage of any professional development workshops your university hosts. Both hard and soft skills are imperative in any Allied Health profession, so make sure you're keeping on top of your empathy, emotional intelligence, and goal setting to ensure success in the future.
Nail that resume
Now is the time to start putting together a resume that speaks to your industry. Each Allied Health profession will have different ways of best showcasing experience, so do some research and consult with university resume services to tailor your resume for the types of jobs that you want.
What's the industry doing?
Keeping up to date on your industry is key in navigating your professional career and the steps you want to take after graduation. What roles are in demand? Which jobs are you aiming for? Keeping on top of the goings-on in the industry will help with career planning.
We suggest signing up for newsletters and following peak bodies within your specific Allied Health profession. Most of these organisations have great networks and will keep you up to date, meaning you're entering the industry knowing what's up.
Well, that's up to you. By getting on top of your professional development now and planning ahead, you'll feel ready to tackle the big wide world of Allied Health come graduation. If you’d like to stay up to date on the industry or you’re interested in APM’s Allied Health Grad Program, pop your details below.