Thinking seriously about a career in health?
Preparing yourself for a career in health can be challenging - there are just so many fields to enter and different pathways to take you there.
You need to know if you have the right qualities, abilities and personal attributes to work in health - many roles are demanding of patience, emotional resilience, and strength of character in difficult situations. For some clinical health roles you need to know you have a strong stomach when it comes to the human body (e.g. don't faint at the sight of blood, or someone in pain).
You also need an understanding of the range of specialisations in the health professions beyond the commonly known professionals such as nurses and doctors. If you've done your research on the Getting started and Find out more pages, then it's time to move forward with your career planning and to start building your skills.
What skills do I need?
There are generic qualities and some skills that are common to all or most health profession roles. You don’t have to be born with them all or know everything today to aspire to a career in health.
Health professionals typically need:
- to respect other people
- to be able to show empathy when people are in trouble or things are going badly
- to communicate effectively with people from a wide range of different backgrounds and ages
- to enjoy practical, hands-on work
- to have clear attention to detail, making sure tasks are done well.
The specialised skills required for particular roles are what you'll learn when you go on to further study after VCE. Some of these, and the generic skills, can be developed and built up over time and you can start building them right now.
Building skills to succeed
Start working on building the generic skills and qualities you'll need through your school work, hobbies, home or social life. You can develop and practice these skills in many ways.
Here are some ideas you can try.
Look for opportunities to build your interpersonal (sometimes called "soft") skills:
- practice being a good listener and communicator - through presentations or written school assignments, volunteering activities, involvement with debating or speaking groups, drama clubs, or even become a volunteer visitor to your local residential aged care facility;
- practice your team work skills - through team sports, group assignments, part-time work, or hobbies involving teamwork or team play;
Explore opportunities to build specialised skills relevant to your area of interest:
- do some first-aid training - joining a swimming or surf club, volunteering as a trainer or similar for your local football or netball team, or joining your local ambulance or fire brigade can give you the chance to do this, and you can practice your team skills at the same time
- extend your understanding of human anatomy and concepts relating to biology
- Seek out school holiday events in fields involving health roles
- Complete your work experience in a health related workplace. Remember, this may go beyond hospitals, which can be difficult to find placements in. Think outside the box and try other health professionals that are located in your area. Most areas have local dentists, podiatrists, paramedics, optometrists, physiotherapists, nutritionists and many more.
You may not land a work experience placement in your exact dream job's health area, but you can get a solid understanding of the day-to-day work of a health professional and who knows, maybe you’ll find a new dream to pursue. The more connections you make, the more you'll gain.
And ask your Careers Teacher for more information on ways to engage with health professions and organisations.
What school subjects can help?
You can also build skills and knowledge for your future Health career by making informed subject selections.
Selecting school subjects that match your interests is important. Consider science options (including biology, chemistry and physics in the senior levels), maths, and health and human development.
Use VCE to achieve your personal best results. While ATAR isn’t everything, you will have the widest possible choice of options if you achieve the best results you can. You will also learn about your own potential - it’s great preparation for the effort that will be expected of you at university.
Before choosing VCE subjects, do some research on your course options at different universities. Our LEAP Partner Universities websites all have a special LEAP landing page with shortcuts to their courses, entry pathways, scholarships & financial assistance, student support services and more...
If you're aiming for a specialised degree, your subject choices can be even more focused. University courses may vary, so their course guides will explain the subjects you will be studying at their uni and their course outcomes.
You should also check the VTAC publications web page, go to the Publications for Year 10 and 11 students and browse to the VICTER publication for the year you'll be applying for entry. It lists all Victorian Universities' pre-requisites for entry into their courses.
Explore options and pathways
There are so many health-related options it's difficult to decide. Health is diverse, so you should first understand the Health areas and specialisations - check out our health > glossary to help you decide which area sounds right for you. Also check out Health professions snapshot - facts and figures on our Getting started page to see what employment trends are predicted.
If you're unsure which direction you want to take in health, or just want to keep your options open, a general degree such as a Bachelor of Biomedicine, which usually offers many different majors across a range of disciplines and prepares you for the challenges of healthcare delivery. You'll develop transferable skills and you can choose specialisations as you progress through your course as you get a better feel for the areas you are best at and enjoy the most.
If you already have a clear direction in mind, there are many other degrees to choose from, where you can specialise in your chosen profession area or role.
Visit Open Days
It is a good idea to visit open days held on metro and regional university campuses. Download our Open Day Calendar (PDF 79Kb) to plan your visits and our Open Day Hints and Checklist (PDF 100Kb) for tips on what to do and ask at an Open Day.
Build your skills in a LEAP activity
See the LEAP activities you can get involved in, to skill up and prepare for your Health studies.
Are you ready to make the leap?
Do you now feel ready, with a healthy Career Plan? Then go to Making the leap for some final hints and tips to refine your strategy.