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Extraordinary future careers in health care

If you’re interested in a career in health, the prospects are bright. The health sector is booming for a number of reasons. The main driver is Australia’s ageing population and a rising need for people to perform roles in both clinical and community positions. Statistics show that health is likely to be one of Australia’s key service industries by 2030, when 20% of the population will be 65 or older.

Always wanted a job helping people, but not sure where to begin? Associate Professor Lynn Riddell, Deakin University’s Associate Dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health, breaks down your future career options.

New opportunities in old fields

‘The ageing population is the main driver of jobs and careers in the future. In terms of health that opens up a much larger employment market. You have clinical needs and community needs,’ Prof. Riddell explains.

On the clinical side, important roles will include registered nurses, doctors, medical imaging specialists, dieticians and clinical exercise physiologists. By contrast, there are community opportunities in public health, social work, occupational therapy and psychology. In addition, more opportunities will come up in niche roles to support aging people. These might include helping to counsel people through later life decision-making, or diet and food innovation for older people.

Future careers in health

There are technology-driven job opportunities that don’t yet exist. ‘People who can use data to understand population health and wellbeing will be important,’ she says. Because the future of health care relies on technology, there are many surprising emerging fields.

‘If people have an interest in robot design there’s a synergy with health,’ Prof. Riddell says, predicting a future where robotic companies are supplying more medical equipment. For example, refrigerated or heated robots might carry food to bedsides to improve the quality and safety of food in health care facilities. And given that we’re already seeing surgical robots and 3D printed body parts emerge as new realities, this is just the beginning.

Although it might seem technology could make some careers redundant in coming years, Prof. Riddell says that’s not the case. ‘Health is a human business. Humans aren’t going anywhere. It’s a growth area because our population is growing. We have a diversity of needs,’ she says.

'Health is a human business. Humans aren’t going anywhere. It’s a growth area because our population is growing. We have a diversity of needs.'

Associate Professor Lynn Riddell,
Associate Dean, Faculty of Health, Deakin University

How to choose the right career

For those experiencing uncertainty about which health positions to pursue, Prof. Riddell recommends thinking about primary interests and passions. Ask yourself, ‘What motivates me? What are my skills? What careers in health are aligned with that?’ She also suggests establishing whether you like working with individuals, groups or using data to understand large segments of society.

Health is just one of many industries facing big changes over time. Prof. Riddell says that a range of abilities may be applied to future careers. Health care professionals will need to be ‘multi-skilled and multi-faceted. It’s a career that can take an individual from the bedside to the laboratory and beyond,’ she concludes. 

Interested in being part of the health care workforce of the future? Consider studying Deakin’s Bachelor of Health Sciences.

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Associate Professor Lynn Riddell
Associate Professor Lynn Riddell

Associate Dean,  Faculty of Health, Deakin University
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