Graduating from Health Sciences

February 23, 2014 by Curtin CEL Team

Graduating from Health Sciences

Overall the employment prospects for health graduates is positive, as the health care and social services sector continues to grow in Australia, supported by developments in health care technology, aging population and an overall growing population.

For some students studying a degree within the Faculty of Health Sciences, you are working towards accreditation as a specific allied health or medical professional such as a Physiotherapist, Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacist, Speech Pathologist, Midwife, Oral Health Therapist, Dietitian, Paramedic, Medical Scientist, Psychologist or Social Worker. Students studying these courses often have a clear identity and employment direction, even though within their disciplines there are diversity in the types of clients and sectors they can work with. For students who have a placement within their course, particularly in their final year, it is essential that you make the most of these experiences by:

  • Developing networks and contacts with experienced industry professionals
  • Learning about the career journey of more experienced professionals and what factors influenced their career decision making
  • If your placement went well, asking your supervisor/s if they will be a referee
  • Setting yourself goals to improve your professional competency and confidence
  • Collating evidence of demonstrating the professional competencies aligned to your discipline
  • Reflect on your different placement experiences, what did you enjoy, dislike and learn from each experience? How can this inform your future career decisions?

For students studying a broader degree such as undergraduate psychology, the Bachelor of Science (Health Sciences), nutrition, health promotion, occupational health and safety, molecular genetics and biotechnology or human biology pre-clinical, these degrees are a springboard for a diverse range of employment and future study opportunities. These degrees do not specifically prepare you for a job, but rather equip you with a range of transferable skills that employers are looking for such as written and verbal communication, problem solving and critical thinking, research and data analysis, team work, organisation and planning skills, cultural awareness and an international perspective. These combined with your discipline knowledge and your other life experiences such as work experience, part time or casual work, volunteering, student club involvement and your personal attributes, is what will make you the complete package for a potential employer.

Many roles that do not require a specific accreditation will outline a range of degree backgrounds that they deem suitable to be educationally prepared for the position, in conjunction with other criteria that focus on transferable skills and personal qualities. Health Sciences students that secure employment opportunities more easily than others are those who not only perform well academically, but are also engaged in volunteering and/or other forms of degree related experience and are able to articulate to a potential employer how their skills and experience fit the position description and their personal value alignment of the organisation’s mission and values. Explore where your degree can take you by visiting the Careers & Employment Centre website

Study Abroad

A recent report by Universities Australia, has confirmed the value a study abroad experience has on enhancing a student’s employability. Whilst employers did not specifically state that a student’s participation in a study abroad experience makes them a more attractive candidate, employers highlighted that such an experience enabled the student to provide authentic examples of how they meet criteria for a position. Employers also acknowledged that a study abroad experience indicated the applicant’s personal capabilities including their:

  • Willingness to stretch the boundaries
  • Exposure to different societies and cultures
  • Independence
  • Evidence of embracing opportunities
  • Immersion into a different education environment
  • Ability to build new networks

Being able to articulate and connect your employability to these experiences is critical to landing the position you desire and becoming a high quality applicant.

Employers did not demonstrate a particular bias or preference to where students had undertaken their study abroad experience. Given the proximity to Asia and Australia’s increasing business and political activities within the region, as well as the recognised need to understand differing practices related to conducting business activities within the Asian region, the student would need to highlight why they sought a study abroad experience in Asia other than the practicing of language skills.

Employers were asked what they would recommend a student could do to make the most of their study abroad experience. These recommendations link to the competencies that employers look for when identifying talents in students and recent graduates:

  • Culturally immerse yourself
  • Appreciate and reflect on the intercultural nuances of different environments
  • Learn about different etiquette norms
  • Be open-minded about different societies and cultures and try ‘living their way’
  • Be highly observant, note everything that occurs
  • Learn how different societies distribute and receive information through media, opinion pieces, social interactions etc.
  • Learn about different family and lifestyle values
  • Observe how business is conducted
  • Use the opportunity to plan and prepare for your return home
  • Embrace different challenges and appreciate that these challenges can enhance individual experiences
  • Speak the language of the country
  • Use the opportunity to build confidence
  • Use the overall experience to enjoy a different way of life
  • Build new networks away from the types of networks that students enjoy back home

To find out more about participating in study abroad as a Curtin student, visit the Study Abroad website

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