quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

Career choices - why I decided to become an AHP

We hear from student AHPs from the Student Leadership Programme, about what influenced and inspired them to choose their course. 

Health Education England is working with The University of Winchester as part of an ongoing study to understand why student AHPs have chosen their careers. Click here to find out more and complete the survey. 

Why I decided to become a dietitian

Fatma Tekagac - Dietitian student

After working in several different roles within the NHS, I knew becoming a Dietitian was the best role for me. There are many reasons that lead me to this decision but I would like explain several that matter the most to me.

First and foremost, I realised the importance of food intake and diet on human health. A lot of the patients that I have worked with suffered from conditions that were either preventable or manageable by diet which would enable them to live a better quality life and enjoy everyday. I could not think of any of my patients that would not benefit from a dietetic intervention!

In addition, I love supporting people; listening to them and providing them with solutions always made me feel better. I knew this role will enable me to help people make positive changes in their life.

Most importantly, I chose this role because of the future possibilities available. Being in a developed country means we are surrounded by lots of easily accessible sources of food. As a result, food related conditions and malnutrition (under or over nutrition) is increasing, thus people will need expert  knowledge and guidance in the field of nutrition to help them tackle their problems.


Why I decided to become a therapeutic radiographer

Elise Woodbridge-Colella - Therapeutic radiography student

I always wanted to work in healthcare, growing up with role models in the AHPs and nursing.

Around the time I was finishing school and exploring AHP careers, a relative was having cancer treatment. They told me about their radiotherapy, and I discovered therapeutic radiographers. I was immediately drawn to the role, because of the diverse combination of areas you study.

I discovered they are heavily involved in patient care and holistic support, uniquely caring for the same patients daily for several weeks. I really loved that they work in teams and spend their days communicating with patients. I was also fascinated by radiotherapy technology and the sciences of oncology and radiation. Therapeutic radiographers are the only AHPs who specialise in oncology from the start.

After visiting a radiotherapy department and speaking to radiographers, I was certain it was my ideal career. It suited my personality and academic interests. I am really enjoying my student journey and have accessed lots of opportunities to extend my learning, such as in leadership. I look forward to qualifying in a few months and am excited to see where my career takes me.

Why I decided to become an art therapist

Margaret Chung - Art therapy

Since I was young, I had always aspired to pursue a career in which I can use art to help others.

During my Fine Art undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, I not only learnt more about my art practice, but also experienced how the process of art-making helped me express and make sense of my emotions when my mental health hit rock bottom. I used art materials intuitively to capture thoughts and feelings, and took a step back to look at them as they were. This enabled me to recognise unresolved trauma in my life and aspects of myself that I was not even aware of.

This powerful experience drove my decision to become a trainee Art Therapist, allowing me to connect with people at a deeper level through creative expressions. I believe it is an invaluable privilege to be in a profession which provides individuals with a safe space where creative and emotional mess can be contained, and experiences and feelings can be explored.

Why I decided to become a dramatherapist

Sareena Rai – Dramatherapy student

I always knew I wanted a career in which I would be helping people during difficult times in their lives, helping them navigate their needs and emotions. However, Dramatherapy wasn’t a known career option when I was a sixth former. I decided to study speech and language therapy for my undergraduate degree as this was the closest match to my interests.

After the completion of my undergraduate degree I began exploring the world of drama, which was when I first learnt about Dramatherapy as a profession. I was intrigued about the psychotherapeutic benefits of creativity, play and drama when working with people with mental health difficulties and complex traumas. 

After teaching drama to children for a few years, I decided to apply for a Masters degree in Dramatherapy, which, upon completion would give me the HCPC registered title of ‘Dramatherapist’.

What I love most about Dramatherapy is that it is a creative form of psychotherapy. It utilises creative methods such as storytelling, metaphors, embodiment, projection and role play to order to create distance between the person and the problem/trauma, thereby reducing the risk of re-traumatisation. By working with a Dramatherapist and immersing themselves into a story or role, the clients therapeutic journey is underway.

Why I decided to become a podiatrist

Catriona Doyle – Podiatry

As the first in my family to apply for University, choosing what to study was hard. Two things led me to study and continue with podiatry;

Firstly, I happened to notice a banner advertising a podiatry clinic whilst out one day with my mother. I asked her what podiatry was and she told me. She also told me that managing a team of Allied Health Professionals, which included podiatrists, was part of her job. From here, I arranged to spend time with several of the professions to find out more about what they do. Knowing little about podiatry other than that they work alongside other members of the multidisciplinary team, I finished work experience having learnt a lot about what podiatrists do. The variety of conditions seen, application of science to health and the opportunities for patient interaction were attractive. I knew I wanted a career which focused on one thing in great detail, so I thought learning about the foot in-depth would be appealing. We do learn about the whole limb but have a unique focus on both assessing and treating the foot.

Secondly, at the end of 2011, I transferred from podiatry to Medicinal Chemistry due to not being entirely sure that the profession was for me. This decision was supported by those who knew me but when undertaking my chemistry degree, I missed treating feet and patient interaction. This was enough to motivate to develop my skills so I could go back to what I wanted to do. As a result of my efforts and having had more life experience behind me, I am now in final year of podiatry at The University of Northampton and am nearly ready to enter the workforce.

Why I decided to become a Diagnostic Radiographer

Ismat Khan – Diagnostic Radiography

A career in health is what I have strived for from the early beginnings of my secondary education. I have always been academically ambitious and have never allowed mundane barriers to limit my aspirations. I have chosen to live by a sole principle that has carried me through all my endeavors - that I must succeed.

Despite being unsure which pathway was best suited to me, I had always envisioned myself navigating my way through hospital corridors. Through my transition into further education, I initially had dreamt of studying medicine. At the time, my naive perception of careers in health was limited to doctors and nurses. I was yet to discover the vibrant world of AHPs.

My journey as a Diagnostic Radiographer started with a day visit to the University of Cumbria as part of a Future Careers scheme. This event widened my understanding of the chain of professionals that individually play vital roles in a patient’s pathway. It stubbed the misconception of medical hierarchy and I came to understand that not a single healthcare role takes precedence over another. In fact, it is the amalgamation of skills brought together that enables the delivery of high-quality patient care.

I was enticed by the role of a diagnostic radiographer as they are unique in their responsibility to the majority of patients (if not all) throughout their pathway. Diagnostic imaging sits at the forefront of modern-day medicine; radiographers treat a whole range of patients, from paediatrics to elderly. It was the promise playing a key role in patients’ diagnoses and a challenging working environment that confirmed my decision to pursue the profession.

But not even all my enthusiasm could have prepared me to step into the working world. I quickly learnt that a dream job is very far from dreaming, it is all work. All reality, all blood, all sweat (sometimes literally, as well as figuratively) but no tears. I consider myself to be blessed to be amongst the minority to have found their calling. Although some may say I exaggerate my fulfillment, they could not be further from the truth.

 I take pride in my work and providing patients with high quality care for the pure satisfaction of knowing that I made a difference to them, whether that be clinically or merely improving their day with a smile, all while being able to appreciate the natural intricacies of human anatomy. I would be lying if I did not mention that it's not all beautiful nor glamorous working in a hospital for long hours, but it is humbling, eclectic, and immensely rewarding.

Coming to the end of my third year, my passion has led me to advocate for radiography. Which in turn has enabled me to embody several roles as a student leader throughout my higher education. These positions have enabled me to inspire, guide and educate students on becoming an Allied Healthcare Professionals.

My words of inspiration for anyone considering a career in Diagnostic radiography is that choosing to embark on this journey is a unique opportunity, with countless ways to step into your most authentic self. The profession has significantly advanced over the past 20 years and in our age of technology it will only continue to exponentially. There are lots of opportunities in the profession, different career paths and many different specialisms.

So take on new opportunities, be brave and be bold.

Why I decided to become an Occupational therapist

Leah Holloway – Occupational therapy student

Like most young people, I wanted to be a lot of things when I was older: Police Officer, Builder, Nurse. There wasn't often much of a connection between these roles, however, they all involved working closely with and for the benefit of other people.

As I read more about Occupational Therapists, I couldn’t believe the scope they could cover. I have listed some of the areas in which I personally have shadowed or worked with Occupational Therapists before and during my MSc course, however, this is just a small selection and by no means an exhaustive list of potential destinations for an OT across the four pillars of Professional Practice; Clinical practice; Facilitation of Learning; Leadership; and Evidence, Research and Development:

  • Intermediate Community Care Services
  • High Secure, Forensic Hospital
  • troke Unit in a hospital
  • Community Mental Health Team
  • Public Health England
  • School/Colleges

This broad scope, with such potential for job progression and specialisation, was perfect for me. I chose Occupational Therapy as I loved learning the ‘science' of people; Occupational Therapists are the only health professionals dual trained in both physical and mental health. I also love the ‘art’ of people - we are taught the importance of seeing someone as an individual, complex being with priorities, passions, preferences, and occupations. We then learned to break down functional tasks and consider ways they can be adapted or used to benefit someone, which is suited to their physical, psychological, social, and environmental needs and in a way that they will find important, enjoyable and engaging.

My passion for Occupational Therapy is hard to sum up in so few words, but I really hope it comes through in my advocacy for the profession. Most simply put, I chose Occupational Therapy as it is a job that can expose you to people from all walks of life, and allow you to work collaboratively and creatively with them to problem solve, considering all aspects of them as an individual and their specific, self-set goals.

Why I decided to become an ODP

David Bethell – Operating Department Practice student

When I discovered Operating Department Practice, it was at a time when I was looking for a career change after losing my job. A career change was something that I had been thinking about, although I’d never done any more than think about it. Losing my job was the kickstart I needed to make the change. I was looking for something which offered a sense of fulfilment, something that offered career progression and personal development opportunities. I was now looking for job security, too.

After looking at a variety of industries to consider, I decided that a career in the NHS could offer exactly what I was looking for. After being introduced to Operating Department Practice by a family member, I decided to look further into it, despite never hearing of the profession previously. I also looked into a number of other healthcare professions. However, none of them appealed to me like Operating Department Practice did; it felt like Operating Department Practice had chosen me.

When I looked at the skills and attributes required of an Operating Department Practitioner, I felt like I had them in abundance, despite never having worked in healthcare. I was actually surprised by how many skills were transferrable. Now I am coming to the end of my training, my only regret is that I didn’t know about Operating Department Practice sooner.

Why I decided to become a Speech and Language Therapist

Charlotte Thompson – Speech and Language Therapy student

"Communication is a human right” McLeod, 2018.

To be able to communicate your thoughts, feelings, wishes, to share laughter and tell a funny joke, to tell someone you love them, to ask for help is integral to who we are as humans.

Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) support people with their communication, speech, language and swallowing, and we make a positive practical difference in people’s lives. I love that as an SLT we support our clients and patients to advocate for themselves in every part of their lives. 

The SLT, or affectionately coined ‘speechie’, community has always been somewhere I felt at home. A group of people who care for the people they work with, and support and empower them, as well as their colleagues. Like other caring professions, when things are tough it’s our patients and clients that keep us going; they are our ‘why’. I have found time and time again, support, enthusiasm and admiration between both SLTs and student SLTs. 

I have been glad to see and be part of the passionate work towards a diverse and inclusive profession over these past years and look forward to our SLT future. As someone who lives with chronic illness and disability; I feel proud to be a student SLT and soon to be SLT graduate and Newly Qualified Practitioner. 

I’m a third year, part time student SLT, one of the Council of Deans of Health’s #150Leaders and 2019 Giving Voice Award Winner, and I tweet all things SLT at @SpeechieAtDMU and blog all things SLT at www.speechieatdmu.blogspot.com

Why I decided to become a Physiotherapist 

David Cabrini-Back - Physiotherapy student

It could be argued that it has been like navigating Spaghetti Junction, me getting to Physio. I was a Chiropractor for ten years before deciding that I needed to move on. I enjoyed the education aspect of my patient interaction and decided to move into teaching.

After working in a friend’s restaurant as a chef in the interim, I completed my PGCE. It turned out that a one-on-one interaction with a person was nothing like corralling twenty-five teenagers and convincing them that they want to learn science and so, after eight months, I decided that teaching was not for me. Not sure where to go next, I sat down with my wife and we discussed the options. I knew I wanted to get back into healthcare but wasn't sure how. I talked to friends in healthcare, some were Physios, did some research online, contacted my local hospitals for a therapies experience day and I decided that Physiotherapy would fulfil all I was after from a career. After a late application, I was lucky and excited to be accepted by Bournemouth University.