What do clinical support staff do?

You just have to take your hat off to clinical support staff (a.k.a. healthcare assistants). They spend their careers helping doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Their roles are so selfless that you often wonder if they ever actually think of themselves.

These positions are hands-on and this means being in constant contact with sick or injured people throughout the working day. Clinical support staff careers are amazingly rewarding, as they are all about helping people to get better.

The key to understanding the role of clinical support staff or healthcare assistants is in the word ‘assistant’. Essentially, these guys provide valuable assistance to all kinds of allied health professionals, nurses, doctors and medical scientists. They play an integral role at all stages of a patient’s care, from the initial diagnosis, to treatment and beyond.

What does “clinical support staff” encompass?

‘Clinical support staff’ is not a niche term. This is a hugely broad area of healthcare so many professionals in many different roles can be considered to be healthcare assistants.

You could work in all kinds of environments. Well, within reason; you probably won’t be working somewhere like a zoo, but anywhere in a medical field is definitely possible. You could be walking the floors of a hospital ward, you could be hiding away in labs, you could be playing your part in a radiography department or you could be bringing your skills to the table in a GP’s surgery or a sexual health clinic. Pretty much every area of healthcare requires dedicated clinical support workers, from physiotherapy and dietetics, to midwifery and oncology.

Healthcare assistants don’t necessarily just stay working as assistants for their entire career, however. If you work in one of these roles, the NHS might support you as you study for further relevant qualifications that will help your career progression, such as specialist healthcare NVQs, nursing diplomas and midwifery degrees.

What types of clinical support staff are there?

If you are looking to pursue a career as a clinical support worker, you could take on a role that focuses simply on providing support and care for patients. For instance, you could be working as a maternity support worker, as a nursing healthcare assistant or as an occupational therapy assistant. Alternatively, you could take on a more technical clinical support staff role. For example, you could be working as a cardiographer, as a phlebotomist or as a radiography assistant.

To thrive in these careers, you will need to be patient, caring, sensitive and professional at all times. You’ll be working directly with patients that are in serious need of your assistance. You’ll therefore need awesome communication skills and a friendly bedside manner at all times.

In more senior positions, you may also be responsible for training junior members of staff and showing them the ropes. Usually, new staff will shadow people in more senior positions before they take on responsibilities of their own.

There are so many different clinical support positions available within the NHS. The healthcare world truly is your oyster!

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