Now that GCSE grades are out, many students are wondering what to do next. Many will already have places at a college or 6th form where they can study for A levels or BTECs and some will be starting apprenticeships. From this year, it is compulsory for students to remain in education or workplace training until the age of 17, with the hopes of improving the standard of education amongst those who aren’t planning on going to university in the future.
If you want to be a doctor, dentist, vet, nurse or other highly specialist job in healthcare, university education is a must. There simply isn’t a way to become one of these nowadays without a degree. To get into medical school, it’s important that you choose the right subjects at A level. For medicine, the recommended subjects are biology, chemistry and maths or physics, and for dentistry or veterinary science the subjects you choose should include biology and chemistry. Maths will also be a strong choice, but you have more choices with your third option as long as it is a subject that is not regarded as “less effective preparation”; these subjects include media, performing arts, accounting, business studies and generally anything with a creative element.
If you want to work in the health sector but don’t want to go to university, there are other options. NHS apprenticeships are available for many of the assistant roles, and for those with A levels, there are trainee positions or the NHS Practitioner Training Programme where you’ll receive on the job training and study at the same time to work towards an approved and accredited BSc honours degree in healthcare science. There is a broad range of study options, and it’s a great way of working and studying at once.
There are also routes within the NHS where you can start with an apprenticeship and work your way up through qualifications over a number of years. You cannot become a doctor this way, but there are routes into many professional jobs. It will also take you longer than if you go straight to university, but many believe that the work experience and on the job training is of great importance and very beneficial to you. It is your choice how far you go with your studies. If you have GCSEs, you could begin as a clerk and work your way up to become a medical secretary or work in human resources, it’s then possible to progress into management. Or you could start as an unqualified assistant and work your way up to be a technician.