Every day we hear about advances in medical research and technology.
New discoveries and developments in fields like biosciences, nanotechnology, genetics, human behaviour and many others will impact on your health in the future.
These advances lead to new procedures, medicines, technologies and approaches - even to entirely new fields of health practice.
If your passion and interest is in this area, the health profession offers you a rewarding future.
More about health professionals. What do they do?
Right now, health professionals work in these areas and roles:
Hint: For an alphabetical listing of all health roles go to glossary-health.
Doctor / General Practitioner
General Practitioners examine patients to diagnose physical or mental illnesses, disorders or injuries and record patient’s medical information. They can prescribe medications and treatment to promote or restore good health. They may refer patients onto a specialist for further treatment, surgery or testing such as MRI, X-ray or pathology.
View Luke's student story - about studying for his Medicine/Surgery double degree
View Jessica's student story - about studying for her Medicine/Surgery double degree
Medical Physicists can specialise in Radiation Oncology, Diagnostic Imaging or Nuclear Medicine. They are involved in day-to-day clinical activities, education and research.
View Amanda's professional profile - about working as a Medical Physicist in a hospital
There are many areas of specialisation in the health profession. For details of these, go to their description in Glossary - health.
Medical scientists conduct medical laboratory tests to assist in diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. They study blood and its diseases, count blood cells and examine blood slides with a microscope and identify blood diseases such as anaemia and leukaemia. They may be involved with preparation of body tissues (taken from the body during surgery or post-mortem examinations) for microscopic examination.
A midwife works as a part of a multidisciplinary team, liaising with other healthcare professionals to provide the best care and advice to women and their families during pregnancy, labour and childbirth. They also provide postnatal care for women and babies in the early days or weeks following birth, including clinical care and support, monitoring mother and baby and reporting any developments or complications.
View Clementine's student story - about studying for her Midwifery and Nursing double degree
Nurse – Registered
Registered nurses assess, plan, provide and evaluate preventative, curative and rehabilitative care for patients, clients and residents in a wide variety of settings. They provide physical and technical nursing care for patients by making sure patients receive treatment prescribed by doctors and or other health professionals.
View Jessica's student story - about studying for her Bachelor of Nursing (specialising in Midwifery)
View Edgar's professional profile - about working as a Registered Nurse in a residential aged-care facility
An ophthalmologist specialises in eye disease, treatment and surgery.
Clinical Psychologists study human behaviour and the processes associated with how people think and feel, and they provide therapies including prescribing medical treatments to alleviate symptoms of mental illness.
- View Ben's student story - about studying for his Doctorate in Psychology
Audiologists test and assess the nature of hearing disorders. They undertake non-medical management and rehabilitation of hearing loss and associated disorders of communication.
View Phillipa's professional profile - about working as an Audiologist in a Hearing clinic
View Siobhan's student story - about studying for her Clinical Master of Audiology
Chiropractors diagnose and treat patients by triggering the body’s inherent recuperative abilities, alleviating health problems related to the nervous and skeletal systems, particularly the spine, without the use of drugs or surgery.
Dentists diagnose and treat oral diseases, injuries and abnormalities of jaws, teeth and gums; undertake preventive procedures; conduct surgery; and perform other specialist techniques.
Dietitians guide people to make informed and healthy dietary choices to assist in preventing, or to help treat illness and disease. The professional dietitian will combine knowledge of science and food, to provide specialist help to patients with health related illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, or kidney disease.
View Adele's professional profile - about working as a Consultant Dietitian
Health Information Manager
A Health Information Manager applies an understanding of different health care processes, like health records and administration, information management and human resource management, to ensure services meet the medical, legal, ethical and administrative requirements of the health care system.
Health Promotion Officer
Health promotion involves working with groups and communities to prevent illness and to promote good health.
Medical Imaging Technologist
Medical imaging technologists operate X-ray and other imaging equipment, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound, to produce radiographic images which are used in the diagnosis and subsequent management of disease or injury.
Nutritionist have generally completed a tertiary qualification in, for example, food science nutrition, or public health. Their main role is providing information and advice about health and food choices to help people achieve optimal health. Nutritionists may work with individuals, communities or at the community level to design, coordinate, implement and evaluate health interventions to improve wellbeing through better food and nutrition, but they are not qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy.
(Also see Dietitian).
To research the difference between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian, get the Fact Sheet on the Nutrition Australia website.
View Emily's and Felicity's student stories - about studying for their Bachelor of Food & Nutrition
Occupational therapists will treat people who because of illness, injury or circumstance, are limited in their ability to undertake the activities of everyday life. They assist people to regain lost functions, develop their abilities and social skills, as well as maintain and promote independence in their everyday lives to enhance health and wellbeing.
Optometrists perform eye examinations to determine the presence of vision problems and other eye conditions and diseases. An optometrist will work out the nature and extent of vision problems and abnormalities by examining a patient’s eyes, using specialised instruments, techniques and tests. They treat or manage vision defects by prescribing and dispensing glasses or contact lenses, special optical aids or vision therapy.
View Mansi's student story - about studying for her Doctor of Optometry degree
Oral Health Therapist
Dental and Oral Health Therapists have an education and prevention focus and work as part of a dental team. They provide high quality oral health care, mainly for children and adolescents, such as examinaton, treatment and prevention. Oral Health Therapists are qualified in dental therapy and dental hygiene.
Orthoptists specialise in disorders of eye movements and diagnostic procedures related to disorders of the eye and visual system. Orthoptists work in many areas including neonatal care, paediatrics, rehabilitation, geriatrics, neurological impairment, community services and ophthalmic technology.
Orthotist / Prosthetist
Orthotics is a branch of mechanical and medical science that deals with the support and bracing of weak or ineffective joints or muscles, using prostheses. Orthotists and Prosthetists work in special units located in major teaching hospitals, rehabilitation centres and private practice.
Osteopaths diagnose, treat and provide preventative advice on disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the body, using manual techniques to alleviate stresses and dysfunction to improve the body’s function.
Paramedics provide emergency care and treatment before patients reach hospital. They use specially equipped vehicles (even motorbikes are now being trialled in Melbourne), to reach accidents or medical emergencies at homes, building sites and public areas. They may even have to deliver a baby before they can get to hospital in an ambulance.
View Sam's student story - about studying to become a Paramedic
Pharmacists manufacture and dispense medicines and drugs in hospitals and community pharmacies, and advise on their appropriate use. They can also conduct research into the formulation, production, storage, quality control and distribution of medicines and drugs.
View Bec's professional profile - about her role as an Intern Pharmacist
Physiotherapists assess and treat disorders in human movement caused by injury and disease. A physiotherapist will assess the physical condition of patients to diagnose problems and plan appropriate treatment. They use a range of techniques such as massage, hydrotherapy, breathing and relaxation techniques to strengthen and stretch muscles and joints to improve patient mobility.
View Lucy's student story - about studying to become a Physiotherapist
Counselling Psychologists study human behaviour and the processes associated with how people think and feel.
Podiatrists look after the health of people’s feet by treating and preventing foot abnormalities as well as treating skin and nails disorders. A podiatrist will assess the patient’s feet to diagnose a disorders or infections and decide on an appropriate treatment.
Prosthetist - See Orthotist
Public Health Officer
Public health involves working at a population level to identify what factors are impacting on health and what strategies will protect and promote people’s health.
Social Workers help people to deal with personal and social problems. Some may directly help people; others plan and run programs to help individuals, groups or whole communities. Social workers can tell people about community or government support services, such as public housing.
Speech pathologists treat and provide ongoing assistance to people of all ages with communication disorders. These may include speech, language, voice, fluency and literacy difficulties. They also work with people who have physical problems with eating or swallowing. A speech pathologist will establish the nature and severity of each client’s communication problems, which may require the use of special equipment and tests.
Health professionals and students tell their own stories
View videos and read first-hand accounts from university health graduates about their experiences in their chosen field at Professional profiles...
View videos and read profiles of students telling their own stories about overcoming barriers to study at uni. Hear what motivated them to choose their area of study and what they are experiencing at uni at Student stories...
How much can I earn?
The lifetime earnings/ wage gap, between people who graduate from university and those who don't, is significant. Different research measures estimate the higher lifetime earnings by graduates at anywhere from 30% to 75% greater than school leavers1.
Starting salaries vary widely across different areas of health, due to many health fields requiring completion of post-graduate study or internships for full professional accreditation.
Average weekly earnings before tax (2015 data) for health professions range from $1,283 (Midwife) to $5,359 (Anaesthetist)2. Check out the Health profession snapshot infographic below, for earnings data in other areas of Health.
University graduates (Bachelor, newly qualified, under 25) can start on annual incomes of between $42k and $85k (median 2015). For example: Dentistry $80k; Medicine $65k; Optometry $80k; Paramedic $55k; Pharmacy $42k; Psychology and Social Work $54k3.
1 ABC News Fact Check - see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-29/pyne- graduate-earnings-and-unemployment-claim-overblown/5446462
2 ABS Characteristics of Employment Survey.
3 Graduate careers Australia - www.graduatecareers.com.au - Graduate Salaries Report 2015.
LEAP Partner Universities - from here, you can follow links to our partner universities' LEAP landing pages, for direct access to info about each university, their courses, scholarships, student support services, pathways options and other useful information.
Students - Beyond School has lots relevant information about the world of work, work experience, career planning, pathways and development, and occupations for secondary school students. (Victorian Government site)
Study Assist helps school students and their families understand what support they are eligible for if pursuing higher education, based on a range of study options available to them. (Australian Government site)
My Future has a guide to career development, to education beyond Year 12, videos by professionals and interactive career quizzes. My Future also has a new myfuture forum, a tool allowing you to talk to people working in a range of industries. (Australian Government site)
Bullseye posters - School subjects you like and jobs they can lead to. (Australian Government site)
Job Outlook is a careers and labour market research information site to help individuals decide on their future career. (Australian Government site)
My Skills - Online information about vocational education and training options. (Australian Government site)
Good Universities Guide - Online careers guide.
Start building your skills now
If you think a career in health is for you, why not start planning how to get there? Go to Building skills to see what you can do right now. Then remember to review your Career Action Plan with your teacher or careers teacher.