Deciding to work in health is a bit like deciding where to go in Latin America. You have over 20 options, and there’s not just one way to get to where you want to go.
So, how do you begin to narrow it down? If you are a creative, ask yourself these three questions, and then start to explore.
Number one: Am I prepared to re-enter study?
Health roles like nursing, midwifery and those involved in therapy come with a lot of professional autonomy. Good news. And better news, because of this professional autonomy, they tend to be flexible and attract higher levels of pay. The drawback? They are registered professions, and you need to meet certain criteria before you can enter the register. This normally includes degree-level study and a substantial amount of time in supervised training.
If you want to enter health but don’t want to return to study, there are a number of unregistered clinical support roles you can consider. They have less autonomy and lower pay, but they can be a valuable way to make a difference in people’s lives, either as part of the NHS or in other settings. You can also often access apprenticeships should you wish to progress to a registered career at a later time.
If affording study is your primary concern, most health courses qualify for a yearly support payment between £5k to £8k, plus up to nearly £20k a year in additional Student Loans support. There’s also other forms of support available; it’s worth speaking with an admissions team to explore what’s on offer.
It’s also worth noting that if you already hold a degree, you can often take an accelerated postgraduate PgDip or MSc course. This will reduce the amount of time in study from three years to two.
Number two: What interests me in my creative practice?
It’s worth thinking about what interests you in your own creative practice. Is it movement, visualisation, technical know-how or something more interpersonal, like expression?
If you visit our health careers page, you can filter by creative emphasis. For example, if you are interested in movement, you could consider physiotherapy, but also podiatry, occupational therapy and nursing.
By looking at a broader range of professions, you may find a career that you are less familiar with, but that’s a closer match with what interests you. The careers on our site do require degrees, but most professions also have support-level options that do not.
Number three: What are my employment priorities?
Finally, think about what you want out of employment. Do you want to keep your options open, or climb the career ladder quickly? If so, adult nursing, which forms the biggest share of the overall health workforce, might be worth exploring. Do you want to be able to set up your own business? If so, you might want to consider podiatry and arts therapy. Or do you want to help certain groups of people, such as children or people with cancer? Again, if you visit our careers page, you can filter by format and focus to help you find a good match.
The chart below provides an estimate of the overall health workforce in England, as well as an estimate on what percentage is employed by the NHS. Those not working for the NHS work in a variety of settings, including independent hospitals and private practice, as well as for other employers including Local Authorities (particularly in Learning Disability Nursing) and charities.
Employability in all health professions is high, but the professions marked with a star are in particular demand. That being said, employment prospects across health are strong.
|Nursing – Adult*||235,000||80%|
|Nursing – Child||29,000||80%|
|Nursing – Mental Health*||46,500||80%|
|Nursing – Learning Disability*||7,500||40%|
|Hearing Aid Dispenser||2,500||–|
|Operating Department Practice||12,000||70%|
|Speech and Language Therapy||14,000||45%|
|Orthotics and Prosthetics*||35||5%|