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Allied Health Professionals

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) provide care across a range of health and care sectors, within 15 different roles, assessing, diagnosing and treating patients in settings from emergency response to physical and mental rehabilitation and more in between.

AHPs work to improve both health and wellbeing of their patients in their community, enabling and empowering them to live full, healthy lives and take an active role in their own wellbeing and self-care.

An Allied Health career can be very varied and rewarding – which may go some way to explaining why it is currently the third-largest clinical workforce within health and care – so whether you want a hospital-based role, to work within the community or within patients’ homes, it’s likely that there will be a role for you!

You can find out more about each individual AHP job roles, including entry requirements, below… click to explore:

Art/Drama/Music Therapist

Those struggling with emotional issues, or having trouble with expressing their feelings, might visit an Art, Drama or Music Therapist, who will use visual or audio forms of art to help people talk about their problems. These kinds of approaches are well established within the health profession to facilitate communication in therapy sessions.

Music therapy implements music and sound as a therapeutic aid to address a wide range of social, emotional, behavioural or even physical needs of individuals. In many cases, people who struggle to express themselves and their emotions using words can benefit from communicating in these non-verbal ways.

Drama therapy employs techniques which are usually applied within theatre settings to help promote good mental health, explore challenging issues and assist with personal challenges. This could include voice work, roleplay, storytelling and physical movement to help patients to demonstrate or practice alternative behaviours and express themselves… and in some cases dramatherapy might implement masks or puppetry to explore difficult.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A first degree in art or relevant related subject (though a strong art background may be sufficient for acceptance on some courses); you may be required to show your portfolio
  • Experience of working within mental health, special needs, social services or education
  • A mature, flexible approach to working

Dietician

The role of a Dietitian focuses on nutrition in relation to a patient’s health and wellbeing, working with patients to provide practical advice based on scientific evidence. Usually degree-qualified, Dietitians can also advise on, and help to treat, nutrition-related issues and diseases.

Typical entry requirements:

  • Undergraduate degree in dietetics is usually required, or an apprenticeship degree
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including biology, chemistry or maths) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including maths and English language
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science subjects), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
  • Postgraduate courses will normally require an Honours degree including biochemistry and human physiology

Occupational Therapist

Helping patients to recover from injury, develop strength or improve upon the effects of disability, Occupational Therapists apply everyday activities in a therapeutic manner to help treat the ill or injured, ensuring they can develop and maintain the skills and movement they need for their day-to-day lives.

You can find guidance about qualification requirements below, but this is also one of a number of degree apprenticeships, which allow you to gain you a qualification whilst earning a living while your tuition fees are covered by your employer and the government.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A degree in occupational therapy (typically 3-6 years, part time or full time) or an apprenticeship degree
    • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels / 5 GCSEs or equivalent (A-C/4-9) including science
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. biological science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course

Operating Department Practitioner

An essential member of the operating theatre team, an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) provides individualised care to patients of all kinds at every stage throughout their operation, including involvement in patient assessments before their procedure. After the operation, an ODP will support and monitor patients and their physiological status, advising the appropriate treatments while they recover from anaesthesia.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A two-year diploma, or three-year degree, in operating department practice, for which you will usually need:
    • A-Levels and 5 GCSEs or equivalent (A-C/4-9)
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • An apprenticeship degree may be an alternative option

Orthoptist

An Orthoptist is highly trained to investigate and diagnose eye-based symptoms in relation to the brain and eye misalignment, such as issues with focusing (such as squint) or using both eyes together. This includes the monitoring and ongoing management of such symptoms and may include providing specialist assessments for neuro-visual disorders.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A degree in orthoptics, (usually 3-4 years of study), covering practical patient work and theory; currently only three universities in the UK offer this
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including a science subject) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including science, maths and English language
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
  • A demonstrated good understanding of orthoptics (such as some first-hand experience of having spent some time with a registered orthoptist) would be beneficial

Osteopath

Osteopathy is concerned with moving, massaging and stretching a person’s joints and muscles to detect and treat health problems – as well as preventing them – restoring the normal functionality and helping the body to heal itself and rebuild stability. Osteopaths typically use a combination of gentle techniques, as well as, often, more forceful movements, to treat patients’ bodies in a variety of ways, depending on their specific symptoms and needs.

Typical entry requirements:

  • BSc (Bachelor’s degree) or MSc (Master’s degree) in osteopathy; typically, 4-5 years of academic work, patient-facing clinical training and research
  • Registration with the General Osteopathic Council, post-graduation (if intending to practise in the UK)

Paramedic

Supported by an Emergency Care Technician or Assistant, a Paramedic is typically a senior member of an ambulance crew. In the event of an emergency, a Paramedic is usually among the first healthcare professionals to arrive, providing urgent and immediate treatments, assessments and diagnoses, often for the most critical of patients.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A completed degree in paramedic science (or an apprenticeship degree); courses generally take 3-4 years to complete (full time) and includes a mixture of theory and practical work
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • Completed application to an ambulance service as a qualified paramedic
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including a science subject) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including science, maths and English language
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
  • Apprenticeships may also require GCSEs or equivalent (including strong health and science background)
  • Demonstrable reasonable-high level of fitness (including completing relevant fitness assessments)
  • A full UK, manual driving licence and minimum of two years of driving experience.
    • Some placements may require you to have no penalty points or driving offences, or hold additional driving qualifications

Physiotherapist

Patients that have been physically affected by illness, injury or disability may see a physiotherapist who will help them through movement, exercise or manual therapy; in addition to improving mobility, this kind of treatment can help to prevent further disease as well as managing pain in the affected area(s). Physiotherapists will also educate and advise patients in ways to look after themselves outside of their sessions.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A completed degree in physiotherapy or closely related subject (typically 3-6 years, part time or full time) or an apprenticeship degree
    • You may also consider a two-year accelerated Master’s course if already holding a relevant degree or full practising qualification in a related area
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including P.E. and/or a biological science subject) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including English language, maths and at least one science
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. biological science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
  • Some first-hand experience of having spent some time with a registered physiotherapist would be beneficial

Podiatrist

Podiatrists may work in a number of settings, such as part of a team of other clinicians (including doctors and nurses), or within their own business. Their focus is on the health of patients’ feet, ankles and legs, and they work with people to diagnose and treat conditions in this area, as well as helping to prevent issues from worsening, or occurring at all.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A completed degree in podiatry (typically 2-4 years, part time or full time), Master’s degree or an apprenticeship degree
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including a biological science subject) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including language, maths and a science
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. biological science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
    • A previous degree, or a full practising qualification, in a related field may also be sufficient

Prosthetist

Both Prosthetists and Orthotists work with patients that may need external medical devices to aid with movement, assessing and working to correct mobility problems in people of all ages and backgrounds with targeted treatment plans.

Prosthetists use the latest technologies to specifically create and fit the artificial replacements required for limbs that may be missing (from birth, trauma or through amputation), giving patients back their movement or mobility in the most pain-free ways possible. Orthotists use a range of aids to help correct deformities or other problems within patients’ bones, muscles and nerves, helping to relieve pain and increase physical functionality.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A completed degree in prosthetics and orthotics (typically 3-4 years) or an apprenticeship degree
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including maths, physics, biology/human biology or engineering) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including English language, maths and science
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. biological science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
    • A previous degree, or a full practising qualification, in a related field may also be sufficient

Radiographer

Radiographers work as an important part of large medical teams, using high-tech equipment to take images of the inside of patients’ bodies to detect and diagnose injuries or diseases (Diagnostic Radiographers). Radiography can also be used as a specific treatment; Therapy (or Therapeutic) Radiographers often use it to treat people with certain kinds of cancer.

Typical entry requirements:

  • A completed degree in diagnostic radiography (typically 3-4 years full time, up to 6 years part time) or an apprenticeship degree
  • Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels (including physics, chemistry or biology/human biology) / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including science, maths and English language
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course
    • A previous degree, or a full practising qualification, in a related field may also be sufficient
  • Some first-hand experience of having spent some time with a registered Radiographer would be beneficial

Speech and Language Therapist

A Speech and Language Therapist works with patients of all ages that have difficulties with communication (particularly talking) as well as swallowing or eating/drinking. This may be due to psychological reasons, or physical, but in many cases this treatment is life-changing, helping people to speak and communicate more effectively.

In the case of children, this kind of therapy may be appropriate if communication skills are developing slowly; for adults, this may, for example, help to treat an impairment caused by injury or illness.

Typical entry requirements:

  • To have completed a speech and language therapy degree
    • If you already hold a relevant degree you can apply for an accelerated post-grad programme (typically 2 years)
  • For undergraduate courses, 2 or 3 A-Levels / 5 GCSEs (A-C/4-9) including maths, English language and science
    • Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, or a science-based access course