Medical Career Descriptions

The Healthcare Sector - an Overview

The UK healthcare sector employs over 2.2 million people, with the National Health Service (NHS) being the country's largest single employer. Workers within this sector focus on the health and well-being of their patients or of the wider population.

Their roles range from caring for people who are ill, through investigating and developing new or improved treatments, to educating people on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The medical sector employs people at all levels of skills and experience, including doctors, nurses and health visitors, specialist health professionals such as dentists and pharmacists, hospital managers and other office staff, and support workers such as porters and technicians. It also includes the growing field of complementary therapists, such as acupuncturists, herbalists and homeopaths, who are generally based within the private sector.

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Medical Career List

Below is a far from all-encompassing list of medical professions, which gives a flavour of the huge variety of specialist career areas:

  • Ambulance Person
  • Anaesthetist
  • Audiologist
  • Consultant
  • Dietician
  • Doctor
  • General Practitioner (GP)
  • Health Visitor
  • Immunologist
  • Midwife
  • Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Paramedic
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Radiographer
  • Speech and Language Therapist
  • Surgeon

The Day-to-Day Environment

Working environments within the healthcare sector are wide-ranging, including NHS hospitals, private hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries, laboratories, pharmacies, day care centres and residential homes, as well as specialist practices such as dentists, opticians and physiotherapists. Shift-work may be required in certain environments like hospitals, while opportunities also exist for part-time work and flexible working.

Skills and Personal Profile for a Career in Medicine

The skills required of workers in the healthcare sector vary enormously, depending on the particular specialisation and the level of seniority, but the following personal attributes are important across the majority of different functions: -

the ability to communicate clearly and effectively - the ability to work well as part of a team - a high level of personal initiative - a keen attention to detail - a genuine concern for the well-being of those in their care.

Entry Requirements and Training for Medical Careers

The healthcare sector offers job opportunities at all levels. Some roles do not require any formal qualifications. At the other end of the scale, a degree and possibly various postgraduate qualifications, in combination with a large amount of supervised practical experience, are required before the healthcare professional is considered to be qualified in their field of expertise. The training undertaken depends on the particular function and could involve on-the-job learning, college courses, in-house training, or a combination of the above.

Employers of Medical Staff

Most of the UK's healthcare workers are employed by the NHS. Other substantial employers of healthcare staff include the prison service, the Armed Forces and various charitable and voluntary organisations. Some healthcare professionals are employed within the private sector, with most having initially trained in the public sector before moving across. The majority of complementary therapists are self-employed.

Career Development in Medicine

A clearly defined career structure exists within major organisations such as the NHS and the Armed Forces. Healthcare workers within these organisations are encouraged to undertake further training and work towards promotion. In many areas, healthcare workers seeking to progress their careers must continue their professional development indefinitely, in order to remain at the forefront of their field.

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