Degrees Explained: Healthcare degrees
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Degrees Explained: Healthcare degrees

Degrees Explained: Healthcare degrees

If you have a passion for helping others and solving problems, you might be considering a degree in healthcare. This can seem simple enough until you start researching and get lost down the rabbit hole of all the different types…

From medicine all the way to midwifery, there are tons of different programmes within the healthcare sector, each with their own unique twist. While we could not possibly mention every healthcare degree out there, we have narrowed down six of the main programmes to kickstart your career.

If you’re wondering which one is right for you, read on to see which one fits.

Medicine

What is it? Probably the most well known healthcare degree, medicine teaches everything you need to know about the human body, patient care, prevention, cure and more. The course usually takes five years, including clinical placement and taught theory, before you choose to specialise in one area of medicine.

Who is it for? This degree is for those who want to be hands-on doctors. Whether you want to be a General Practitioner or a brain surgeon, it all begins with a degree in medicine. Often crowned the hardest degree you can do, the five-year programme is not for the faint-hearted, and you usually need straight As to get onto the course.

Preparing to be a doctor isn’t always a walk in the park… Source: Shutterstock

Pros:

  • You will have an excellent background in every area of healthcare, so you’re ready to tackle the industry when you graduate.
  • You will have a well internationally respected degree which you can take around the world.
  • You will gain experience working with patients and understanding everything about the human body.

Cons:

  • It’s a five-year course before you have to spend another three years specialising in the practice you want to go into, so it will be a long time before you’re finished being a student!
  • It can be very stressful – from the immense workload to having people depending on you for their health, a life in medicine is by no means easy.
  • You have to have a broad overview before you specialise – even if you know you definitely don’t want to be a surgeon, you still need experience in the field.

Pharmacy

What is it? Pharmacy will teach you all about administering medicine to help patients recover. You will learn the science behind the prevention and treatments for illnesses, communication skills and more.

Who is it for? If you want to be an important member of the healthcare world, you can achieve this with a degree in pharmacy. You will be in charge of administering medicine to sick patients, either in hospitals, surgeries or pharmacies.

If you see yourself working here, study pharmacy. Source: Shutterstock

Pros:

  • You will have high job security because, as long as there are people who are unwell, there will be a need for pharmacists.
  • You will gain skills that will help people, without being in an environment as high pressured as a doctor.
  • You have a choice over where you work given your unique skill set – maybe you work best in the moment on ambulance runs, or you might thrive discussing people’s problems with them within a pharmaceutical setting.

Cons:

  • You might be limited to fewer careers when you graduate. While medicine students will be able to specialise in different sectors, you already selected your sector before committing to your studies. You’ll still have a background in science and health, but one that’s not as broad as medical students.
  • Your career might not have as much diversity as doctors, as you have a more specialised focus in healthcare.

Dentistry

What is it? In a dentistry degree, you will learn everything about the healthcare of the mouth. From fillings to gum disease, you will help patients take care of one of their most important body parts. You will learn how different chemicals in food affect oral hygiene, how to identify problems and deliver solutions to improve people’s lives.

Who is it for? If you’re passionate about improving people’s quality of life in a specific way, dentistry could be for you. It combines nutrition, medicine and hygiene to help people take care of their mouths.

Hopefully you’ll gain more skills than this… Source: Giphy
  • Pros:
    • You’ll have a direct career path which you can still take down a more specialised route. Some dental students find they have a passion for hygiene and become hygienists, while others find orthodontics suits them best.
    • The degree is four years before you’re a qualified dentist, plus one year’s training so you’re not studying for as long as your friends in medicine. You then have to do a year’s paid training.
    • Dentist graduates tend to earn a high starting salary. In the UK graduates earn GB£31,000 (US$41,100) in their training year, before increasing to between GB£50,000 (US$66,264) to GB£110,000 (US$146,000) according to The Implant Hub.

Cons:

  • If you decide you don’t like dentistry, it might be harder for you to switch career than in other professions. Saying that, you will have a deep background in science and patient care, so it’s certainly not impossible.
  • It’s speculated that dentistry will be the first healthcare practice to be automated. In fact, the first fully automated implant procedure was completed last year. But fear not – the role of dentists may change, but there will always be a need for specialists to oversee practices.

Physiotherapy

What is it? Physiotherapy looks to manage pain and physical problems in the body through directed exercises and courses. This could be helping someone live with arthritis or getting a professional footballer back on the pitch after an injury.

Who is it for? This degree will suit anyone who wants to help people in a hands-on way. You might want to work in sport or improve the lives of those with lifelong conditions through working closely with their needs.

Pros:

  • You will build up a close relationship with the patient as you help them regain their mobility and independence. It’s highly rewarding to see people improve under your guidance.
  • Because this is a vocational degree, the entry requirements usually aren’t as high as the courses mentioned above.
  • You’ll be working with people in a hospital setting, their own homes, or even on the sports field depending on which stream of physiotherapy you choose. Every day is different.

You will be helping people find their feet after injuries or surgery. Source: Shutterstock

Cons:

    • It can be trying of your patience when someone doesn’t seem willing to recover. Some people face mental blocks or refuse to commit to recovery, so it’s important you build a trusting relationship with your clients.
    • If you want to be a sports physiotherapist, this is a highly competitive industry. It can be tricky to land your dream job with Man United straight away, but there are still plenty of other jobs in the field.

Nursing

What is it?  A degree in nursing will prepare you to look after patients by studying anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, sociology and other soft skills. You will learn how to care for sick patients who are receiving treatment and the science behind procedures you’ll be carrying out.

Who is it for? If you have a deep sense of empathy, excellent communication skills and want to help people in a healthcare setting, nursing is for you. You need to be good at decision making and staying calm under pressure – and of, course be a ‘people’s person’.

Cutest nurse ever coming through. Source: Giphy
  • Pros:
    • You will learn a broad scope of techniques and information to make you into the best nurse you can be, so it’s great if you have lots of interests.
    • There are lots of streams of nursing you can enter when you graduate from A&E to mental health, meaning you’ll have many options open to you.
    • Every day is different when you’re a nurse, so there are always new challenges to overcome and it’s never dull.
  • Cons:
    • Nurses often have to do the hardest jobs on the ward, like taking patients to the toilet and comforting families when a loved one passes away. Of course, this is all part of the role, but it can be difficult.
    • You often have to work long hours and night shifts, even during your clinical placements while you study. This can disturb your sleeping pattern and make it challenging to study the next day.
    • Nurses are often paid significantly less than doctors, even though they’re equally as essential.

Midwifery

What is it? Midwifery is the practice of caring for pregnant women, delivering babies and aftercare. You’ll master the biology behind fetus development, the stages of pregnancy, different types of birth, healthy early development and patient care.

Who is it for? If you’re passionate about women’s health and babies, this degree could be the path to your dream job. You typically need good grades in STEM subjects to be accepted onto this course.

You could be a part of this life changing experience with a degree in midwifery. Source: Raw Pixel/Unsplash

Pros:

  • The directed nature of the course means you will be an expert in midwifery. While it’s possible to enter the profession from a nursing degree, by studying it at university, you will have knowledge tailored to the practice.
  • You will work closely with a patient through her pregnancy, birth and early days of motherhood. This allows you to build a trusting relationship and to be part of her journey.
  • Every day in midwifery is different – one morning you might be discussing with a patient how her life will change when she’s given birth and that afternoon you might help deliver a baby.

Cons:

  • You don’t have as much career flexibility as those who studied nursing, as you will graduate with specific expertise.
  • It can be hard to say goodbye to patients when you’ve been a big part of their lives, but this is something you’ll soon come to terms with.

We know choosing your degree programme can be tricky, especially when there are so many options out there. If you have any questions or queries, you can email us at editor@studyinternational.com and we’ll do our best to help.

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