Getting into the health profession before you graduate

Written by Samantha Gemmell | 7 September, 2022

When you’re studying health, you just want to jump in and start helping people! The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you graduate to dip your toes into the industry.

If you’re keen to pick up work in the health profession before you finish your studies, here are my top tips to get you started.

Know what you can and can’t do

First up, we need to get clear on what you can do as a student practitioner and what you can’t! As a student, you can’t practise clinically (unless you have a previous qualification in that area). So, for example, if you’re a student naturopath, working as a naturopath is a no-no – you can’t get insurance and therefore would be open to legal claims.

But there is still plenty you can do as a student in the profession! A few examples of potential work include:

  • Receptionist/clinic assistant
  • Dispensary assistant
  • Social media/marketing support
  • Sales rep
  • Health food store sales assistant
  • Pharmacy assistant
  • Some positions with supplement companies
  • Demonstrator for health food company

The list goes on – which is why we need to explore the next point.

Figure out what you want to try

Next up, it’s time to think about what sort of work you’d like to do. This might be what the job involves – for example, sales – or it could be the type of companies you’d like to work with. That way, you’ll know what to keep an eye out for and where to look for openings.

For example, I went through a period of time where I was interested in where nutrition education began – in school. So I picked up some volunteer work with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. This is a great option for you to test out whether that sort of work is a fit for you, and from there you can pursue job opportunities that pop up.

Hot tip: make sure you keep an eye on the Endeavour Industry Job Board. There are often positions that are suitable for students, and they may be something you’ve never thought of!

Network, network, network!

The vast majority of work in the health profession never makes it to SEEK or the usual job platforms. That’s why it’s crucial to start networking in the area you’re keen to start working in.

Dreaming of a job at your local organic store? Shop there regularly and chat to the staff.

Hoping to work with one of the big health brands? Connect with managers on LinkedIn, follow the brand on social media and pop along to events where brand reps are attending.

Looking to work for a local practitioner? Find out if there are practitioner meetups and events in the area and pop along.

Even if there isn’t a position available at this moment, you’ll be the top of mind if one opens up or even if a new position is being created.

Consider Virtual Assistant (VA) work

One of the booming pathways for student practitioner is working as a Virtual Assistant, or VA. If you have any skills that you can offer in an online/remote capacity, this could be a fit for you! For example, some services that student practitioners are offering include:

  • Social media management
  • Blog writing
  • Inbox management
  • Customer/client service
  • Research assistance
  • Recipe development
  • Website design
  • Graphic design

Some of these do require previous experience, but many can be self-taught or even started today! The best part is that VA work can be incredibly flexible – you choose your own hours and all you need is a laptop and internet connection. It can also help you to build connections in the profession and learn from experienced practitioners how they run their business.

There really is no time like the present to kick start your career in the natural health profession!

Interested in Natural Health?

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Samantha Gemmell

Sam is a qualified Nutritionist (BHSc), health writer and mentor for prospective health writers. Her goal is to give practitioners a voice and presence in the online world, so they can make the world a healthier place. You can find her tips, tricks and thoughts over at www.samanthagemmell.com 

Read more by Samantha Gemmell

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