If you've recently graduated or you're in the midst of finishing up your degree, you might be checking out and applying to some of the graduate programs offered in the Allied Health industry. You may have even applied to the APM Allied Health Graduate Program. These programs are a fantastic way to gain hands-on experience and kickstart your professional career whilst still receiving a high level of education and continued support.
But how do you succeed in a graduate program? How do you ensure you're getting the most out of the experience and taking every opportunity that comes your way?
We're going to break it down for you.
Be kind to yourself
Here's the thing - you're not going to know everything immediately. Allied Health roles are complex and tricky, and it takes a while to learn your craft. You just have to make sure you're open to learning and developing your skills as you go, and don't get too frustrated if you're not an instant healthcare superstar right away.
And nobody expects you to be, either. We all remember what it was like when we first started our professional careers, and we want you to take it easy on yourself. The beauty of a graduate program is that there are so many opportunities to learn and grow, so take every one that comes your way - shadowing opportunities, networking events, and one-on-ones with colleagues. Do it all and absorb everything like a sponge.
Don't pigeonhole yourself too early
When we say take every opportunity, we really mean it. One thing some graduates tend to do is have a very set idea of the direction they should take their career. Which is completely fine if you know what you want and you're committed to achieving it.
However, by keeping an open mind you may stumble across a career path or profession you've never even considered. The Allied Health industry is incredibly dynamic and diverse, and you never know what could happen once you get stuck into your graduate program.
Soft skills are important
You've studied, you've got your degree, and you've been accepted into a graduate program - we know you know your stuff, and you'll learn the ins and outs of the role as you progress. It's your attitude and your soft skills that will help you succeed.
When we asked some of the top APM consultants what qualities they like to see in new grads joining the workforce, the same words came up time and time again. Initiative, drive, confidence, and ambition were qualities they love to see, in addition to a hunger for learning.
And the soft skill brought up the most? Organisation.
Allied Health roles, particularly at APM, are hugely varied and have a lot of flexibility in your day-to-day. Which is fantastic for work-life balance - but it does mean you need to keep yourself in check and manage your time well. Samantha Breust, General Manager of Konekt Workcare, said, "Being time-efficient and highly organised is a fundamental human skill that our people must have to do well in this space."
You'll also need to be assertive at times - which may be a bit of a challenge at times, but will definitely improve with time. Allied Health can be emotionally charged at times, especially when you're helping clients who are having a difficult time with their injury or illness. You will sometimes need to be direct and appropriately outspoken to make sure you're heard, and challenge clients when needed. Managing recovery expectations can be a tricky road to navigate, so assertiveness is key.
Make self-care a priority
Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword over recent years, but it still remains an absolutely vital part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, especially when you're working in the Allied Health industry. You're dealing with vulnerable, injured, and ill people, and it can be tricky to manage your emotions and switch yourself off after a hectic day, especially if you're naturally empathetic.
When providing care for injured or ill people, you can also sometimes be the easiest person to blame if something isn't going to plan. You need to be resilient and make sure you're recharging that resilience often. Make sure you give yourself time to rest, get some exercise, see friends, and maintain the hobbies you love so that you can switch, soothe your soul, and maintain your mental health.
Innovative thinking is a huge part of any health care role. Every client is different, and coming to you under a completely different set of circumstances. One treatment plan will not suit multiple clients, so you need to be creative and help in ways unique to each individual client. Sure, the end goal for many might be the same, but getting there will differ so much depending on the person. How do you overcome these challenges? How do you continue to build your client's capabilities? You need to stay on your toes and adapt your plans accordingly.
Research and learn as you go
Taking what you learn day to day on the job and doing your own external research can be incredibly helpful in supporting your professional development.
It's particularly helpful to be across any legislation you might need to know. Here at APM, we do a lot of work in rehabilitation of work-related injuries. Look into legislation around this, especially surrounding worker's compensation. If you're working in an area like rehabilitation consulting, you need to have a good overview of general injury and the legislation around it so you can manage recovery expectations for clients.
If you get across this prior to starting your graduate program, you'll feel a bit more grounded, and a lot more confident in giving advice to your clients.
Network with other grads
As important as it is to network with your colleagues and others in the industry, it's equally as important to socialise with fellow grads. It can be so valuable to chat to others in the same position as you, compare stories and notes, and develop a support network that you can turn to as you all learn and grow in your roles.
Develop your emotional intelligence (EQ)
In a previous blog we chatted about EQ and why it's so important to Allied Health roles. Make sure you're constantly practicing and developing your emotional intelligence to become a better, more empathetic health care professional. Check out our blog on EQ if you want to learn the ins and outs.
The key to your success in an Allied Health graduate program is attitude and passion. Allied Health professionals need to be passionate about helping people to live and work well. If you're passionate, dedicated, and open to anything, you will succeed.
The APM Allied Health Graduate Program is open for registrations now - if you know you have the above qualities and you're ready to kickstart your career, apply now.