Gain practical skills with graduate study in health

Two top healthcare academics weigh in on how their courses utilise real-world skills that you can take back to the workplace.

All healthcare practitioners aim to provide the highest level of care - and that’s an ever-moving goal. Further study can help you grow your career and provide unparalleled patient care.

We speak to two leading academics about how a formal postgraduate qualification can set you on the right track.

Apply your knowledge to practice

Postgraduate study allows you to build towards further qualifications - but more importantly you can gain a valuable set of skills that can be applied directly to their current practice.

“The university is known as one of the world’s leading academic institutions, so it can come as a surprise to find that our courses are designed to be extremely practical,” says Professor Stephen Trumble, Head of Medical Education. “Health professionals are too busy to wade through a lot of scholarly self-indulgence,” says Trumble, “so we make everything relevant to the clinical workplace. They know that there is a solid theoretical basis for everything we teach so we don’t waste their time.”

Professor Allison McKendrick, Optometry and Vision Sciences academic, is a teacher of the Master of Clinical Optometry course.

“The content is taught by leading experts, and allows students to explore new approaches to patient management to ensure that they are using the latest evidence base to provide patient care,” says Professor McKendrick. “The subjects have weekly content that suggests new approaches to considering clinical problems, including tasks to conduct in your practice alongside the more theoretical aspects of the course content.”

Adapt to an ever-evolving industry

According to a 2018 report from The Department of Jobs and Small Business, the healthcare and social assistance sector expected to see the highest job growth in Australia by 2023 - staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Employment within the sector is projected to increase by 14.9 per cent over the next five years, meaning healthcare workers must be strategic to maximise their career potential.

Professor Trumble is a firm believer in staying up-to-date with the latest research, treatments and trends. “Healthcare continues to evolve, and we long ago passed the point where a practitioner could remember every fact,” he says. “There are many skills in clinical teaching, research and leadership that are never taught during our basic training. These roles and the skillsets required to do them often arise during our working lives.”

With the number of healthcare professionals increasing to meet demand, pursuing postgraduate study will put you first in line for the best career opportunities.

“We’ve made sure that the qualification actually means something,” Professor Trumble adds. “Employers can be confident that it certifies people with a sound academic underpinning and the ability to do the job.”

With new technology comes new ways of learning. Professor McKendrick says the Master of Clinical Optometry is the only clinically-focused Masters course available online in Australia, offering practitioners the flexibility to fit study into their busy schedule. “The University of Melbourne’s optometry program is very highly regarded internationally, and is taught by experts who not only teach but actively contribute to the creation of new clinical knowledge through their active research programs,” she says. “The University of Melbourne has internationally-recognised academic experts to assist you in your quest to stay up to date.”

Provide unprecedented patient care

In order to adapt to the changing needs, demands and expectations of patients, practitioners must be informed and empowered to deliver convenient, customised and accessible healthcare solutions.

“Healthcare careers are dynamic and evolving,” says Professor Trumble. “The job we do today is very different to the one we were trained for, sometimes because of growth in knowledge and technology but often due to choices we’ve made to take different paths. Re-engaging with study keeps the practitioner engaged with their patient care by stimulating curiosity, reflection and mindfulness.”

Postgraduate study also allows students to focus on a key area of clinical interest and become specialised in a certain field, such as oncologypalliative caresports medicinenursing or optometry. Professor McKendrick says the Master of Clinical Optometry, for instance, comprises elective, online subjects for students wishing to broaden their knowledge of a particular area within the industry. “Further study in select areas of clinical interest can assist in differentiating your practice, improve confidence to manage complex cases in specific areas of clinical interest,” she says. “And it can invigorate your clinical approach to specific areas of focus.”Whether you’re a clinician, nurse, surgeon or general practitioner, postgraduate study opens the door to a world of opportunities – you’ll expand your professional network and learn from some of the industry’s best. But more importantly, you’ll gain a valuable set of skills that will help you provide the best possible care for your patients.

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