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How can health professionals identify the training route which is best for them? 

How can health professionals identify the training route which is best for them? 

EducationInsightsTop Stories

Lauren Wakeling, UK Country Manager at CoursesOnline, speaks to us about the best career choices for healthcare professionals and how they can succeed in them.  

Training opportunities within the healthcare sector are essential both for professionals and patients who rely on their expertise. In lieu of this, there are multiple training opportunities for healthcare professionals to help them progress in their careers.  

What types of training routes are there?  

In the healthcare industry, there is a range of training avenues available, from the more practice-based vocational routes to the more theory-based academic ones. In part, the training path that you choose will depend on your chosen career, as some roles require key qualifications or a number of hours spent in practice.  

However, that does not mean that there is not any leeway when it comes to choosing the right training route for you.  

Some of the most common routes into healthcare roles include:  

  • BTEC 
  • NVQ 
  • Apprenticeship 
  • Foundation Degree 
  • Bachelor’s Degree 
  • Master’s Degree 
  • Professional Training Qualification 
  • Professional Development Course  

What are your career goals?  

Depending on your career, you might have a predetermined qualification level that you will need to achieve or undertake training accredited by a particular awarding body. For example, in order to become a qualified doctor, you will need to attend university and study for a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine. However, there are over 350 different career options in the NHS alone, so you might want to explore different healthcare careers to find the one which you are most passionate about.  

Below are some of the most popular careers for healthcare professionals alongside the training routes available to get into them.  


This includes a broad range of careers including general practitioners (GPs), anaesthetists, cardiologists and more. The specific requirements for each professional role will vary, however for all doctors, an undergraduate degree in medicine is essential. Following this, many roles – such as anaesthetist careers – involve additional postgraduate study.  


This includes general nursing, paediatric nursing, mental health nursing and more. The main route to nursing is through a nursing degree where, upon completion, you will register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). However, there are also other options such as nursing degree apprenticeships, which take a more practical approach.  

Psychological professionals  

Mental health is a key aspect of healthcare and there are several roles within psychology. Some roles – such as a clinical psychologist – will require specific qualifications such as a psychology degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) while other roles – 

such as a peer support worker – require you to have lived experience so you can support and connect with patients.  

What experience or qualifications do you already have? 

Finding training opportunities that are right for you is key to helping your professional development and expanding your career opportunities. If you know what qualifications you need to obtain your career goals, and what training opportunities would open up your career options, then you are one more step towards your dream career.  

GCSEs and A Levels  

In order to become a doctor, you will need good GCSE and A Level results to be accepted onto an undergraduate degree course in medicine. Although entry requirements vary, you’ll likely need the top grades in science, such as Chemistry or Biology, to qualify for these courses. 

For those who have studied other subjects or are coming into this career later in life, studying online for A Levels in Biology and Chemistry can help you progress your career as a doctor.  

Online training courses 

When deciding on the best training route, recognising where you are currently in your career and what you are working towards is essential.  

For healthcare professionals who are already working in the industry and want to grow in their careers, there are hundreds of potential online courses which can help your professional development. Knowing what level you are currently at is essential, ensuring that you are continuing to progress toward your goals.  

For example, if you are a registered nurse who is currently looking to explore a career in disabilities, then obtaining the appropriate postgraduate qualification is key in helping you move into this area.  

What type of learner are you? 

There are two main types of training qualifications: vocational and theoretical. Often –  

particularly in healthcare – your training will consist of a combination of these elements. However, some training routes are more focused on one area than the other.  

For example, a bachelor’s degree will often be more theory-based and therefore more academically focussed than an apprenticeship programme. This is because apprenticeships consist of learners spending more time in practice, working in a healthcare environment for several hours a week while their training is supplemented by theoretical knowledge.  

Bachelor’s degrees, however, have a greater focus on academic and theoretical knowledge, often with options for placement modules and sometimes a minimum requirement to work a certain number of hours in practice. Online courses and other training programmes will vary in terms of which approach they take, depending on the level and time to study. 

Learning types and career goals  

When exploring which type of training course is right for you, it is worth recognising whether you are a practical learner or a theoretical learner. 

Keeping in mind your ultimate career goals is also essential, for example, if you want to go into health research or academia then undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications will provide you with a better basis to progress in this area. If you are keen to explore a career working directly with young people, however, then experience working with and supporting this age group would be greatly advantageous.  

Deciding which type of training comes down to a few different factors, including what options are available to you, your learning style and how you can best be prepared for your future career. Whether you study for a medical degree or undertake an apprenticeship course, make sure you decide on the best training route to help make the most of your skills and get you to where you want to be.  

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