Health & social care misconceptions
True or false? The only way to work in health and social care is to be a nurse, doctor, dentist or social worker.
True or false? If you’re not a doctor or a dentist, then it’s hard to earn much money in health and social care.
True or false? Health and social care careers are all about stress and constant challenges, with no sense of satisfaction or joy.
Want to know the truth about careers in health and social care? Well then, read on and discover what they’re really all about.
Health & social care realities
It’s all about helping people. Careers in healthcare are about helping people who are having problems with their physical health. Careers in social care are concerned with helping vulnerable people in the community and providing them with support so that they can benefit from a much more improved way of life.
Health and social care is an especially broad career sector. Tons of different career paths are available for people from all different kinds of academic backgrounds. Careers in healthcare are much more likely to require a combination of further study and on-the-job medical training, whereas careers in social care are more likely to start with on-the-job training and allow people to work towards professional qualifications later on in their career.
Everybody is dependent on the specialist skills of healthcare professionals at some point (even if it’s only when they are born). Not everybody becomes directly involved with social care initiatives. However, everyone is likely to encounter the many social issues that require the hard work of social care professionals. Careers in health and social care are some of the most important in the world. These employees not only help people on an individual basis, but make a difference to society as a whole.
Understandably, the key word to consider when contemplating a career in this sector is ‘care’. People who work in this sector truly care about helping other people. Without that level of concern and desire to make a difference, it is impossible to succeed in the health and social care world.
In order to thrive in these careers, you need to have the ability to build relationships with patients and service users. It is essential that people trust you, and therefore patience, friendliness and fantastic communication skills are needed. These careers are some of the most rewarding you can pursue, but can also be the most challenging emotionally. You certainly need to be genuinely compassionate and caring, but you need to be thick-skinned too.
Health & social care options
The NHS (National Health Service) is the largest employer in Europe (over one million employees); however, many private institutions also employ tons of people in the healthcare arena. A large amount of these people are employed as doctors, dentists, paramedics, nurses and midwives, but plenty more are engaged within managerial, I.T. and administration work.
There are many different specialist careers available within the healthcare system, including: clinical support staff, such as donor carers and new-born hearing screeners; allied health professionals, such as radiographers and orthoptists; and specialist therapy staff, such as occupational therapists, speech therapists and art therapists.
There are so many different paths to take when pursuing a career in social care. Social care work can be done in a variety of different environments: in people’s own homes, in residential care units, in shelters for the homeless, and in young offender institutes. However, people tend to specialise in one area, which is defined by the kind of service users they work with and their specific type of social problems, such as domestic violence, asylum, or mental health.
Most people will have heard of social workers. These guys operate at a more senior level and deal with the complex problems of service users with critical social needs. They assess the specific needs of individuals and offer them expert advice and support. They also work closely with social care workers and direct them in what extra specialist care the service user should receive.
Social care workers tend to be more actively involved with providing personal and hands-on care to service users. The professionals employed in this area of work include: people who provide physical support for people with mobility issues, counsellors who provide mental health advice and support, and advisors who support people who are looking to foster. Many areas of social care also require support staff who do not provide active care functions, such as managers and administrative support staff.
The quality and integrity of health and social care professionals is of paramount importance in keeping service users safe. Consequently, all applicants will have to undergo basic security checks before they can work in this sector. This can often involve undergoing a standard DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.
Careers in health and social care are undoubtedly amongst the most challenging, but they can also be the most satisfying. They require empathy, responsibility, perseverance and, above all, a strong desire to help others. If that sums you up, then a job in health and social care may be the one for you.
Ned H - Deputy General Manager - Emergency and Specialist Medicine
Ned joined the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme straight after completing a Maths Degree at the University of Nottingham. He always felt that he'd enjoy a public sector career and healthcare appealed to him as his mum has a background of working at a hospital school and his father was a psychiatrist.
- James G - Healthcare Scientific Practitioner
- Jody B - Audiologist
- Kathryn P - Pharmacy Technician
- Madeline N - IT Project Manager
- Jennifer C - Human Resources Manager
- Ned H - Deputy General Manager - Emergency and Specialist Medicine
- Matt H - HR Project and Recruitment Manager
- Megan B - Project Manager
- Steve R - Commissioning Manager
- Thomas R - Business Manager
- Ross B - Director of Leadership
- Mary A - Chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Sir David Nicholson - Chief Executive
- Chris B - Chief Nursing Officer
- Sir Bruce Keogh - NHS Medical Director
- Mark H - Team Leader
- Cara O - Graduate Medic
- Vittoria R - Senior Manager
- Dave N - Business Development Manager
- Sarah C - Senior Sister
- Suzanne R - Voluntary Services Manager