Students drawn to a role which helps communities

11 August 2010

The nation's health system has experienced huge change in recent years, and this is set to continue, even when you discount the usual vote-friendly platitudes being trotted out by both major political parties during the current campaign.

Interestingly, as the health care sector undergoes major structural change, these has also been a corresponding spike in the number of people keen to pursue a career in health and give back to the community.

Speech Pathologist, Emma Crust
Speech Pathologist, Emma Crust

A case in point is the number of applications for Health Sciences undergraduate degrees at the University of Sydney which, this year, were up 11 per cent on last year. Postgraduate professional preparation programs saw a substantial 31 per cent increase.

According to the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences, Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching, Stephanie Short, a large proportion of students are drawn to study in the health sciences because they are looking for a rewarding career.

Recent graduate Emma Crust is one such student. Emma enrolled in speech pathology at Sydney after she witnessed the difficulty faced by family and friends needing access to allied health services in rural areas.

"I decided I wanted to do something to fix this inequity," says Emma who is now employed by the Greater Western Area Health Services as the sole therapist providing services in the Cabonne Shire area in Central West NSW.

"I worked very hard to get where I am now and am working in a job I love, helping children and adults with swallowing, speech and communication difficulties."

It's not only Generation Y however, who are seeking for this type of job fulfilment. In recent years the Faculty of Health Sciences has seen a number of mature age students entering their two-year graduate entry master's programs as a pathway to professional practice in allied health.

Now employed by Lions Eye Institute in Perth, Sandra Oates relocated her family to Sydney to study the Master of Orthoptics after enjoying a long and successful career in corporate marketing .

"I decided it was time to give something back to the community and society at large," comments Sandra.

She chose to study orthoptics, centering on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye through non surgical management, as skills where in high demand in her home state and the degree offered diverse employment opportunities.

"The graduate entry master's programs have proved popular with those looking for a career change as we accept people from a wide variety of backgrounds, with most of our programs not requiring previous study in health," says Professor Short.

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney offers ten graduate entry master's programs, equipping student to practice across a range of allied health professions. Applications for commencement in Semester 1, 2011 open September 1, 2010.

As published in the Daily Telegraph's 'Career One; Opportunities in Health and Nursing Special Report' Saturday 31 July, 2010.