Three quarters of young people are considering healthcare careers, survey says

three quarters of young people considering careers in healthcare

New data suggests plans to recruit more healthcare workers will only succeed if greater financial support is provided to those considering training for careers in healthcare.

Published today (16 February), the survey was commissioned by Universities UK and analysed by the Nuffield Trust. Of more than 5,000 people aged 16 to 26 surveyed, 73% had considered or were considering a career in healthcare. Nursing (39%), medicine (35%) and midwifery (22%) were most commonly considered.

One of the survey questions asked which factor most deterred the young people from pursing a career in healthcare. The most common answer was the hours of work and study required, at 28%. The cost of training was a close second. Around 25% were concerned about repaying student loans and 23% worried about managing living costs while studying.

The survey continued to ask whether individual factors would deter the participants from pursuing healthcare careers. Nine in 10 said low pay put them off, while 82% were deterred by a lack of flexibility and balance.

Seven in 10 (72%) respondents would be more likely to study a healthcare course if more funding were available. Three quarters said paid placements or having some of their fees written off when joining the NHS would incentivise them.

Universities UK said it is calling for maintenance support to keep up with the increased cost of living. This would relieve financial pressures on healthcare students. The organisation questioned whether the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan would be able to deliver on its promises without increased financial support for healthcare students. Among the plan’s proposals was an increase in training places for dentists and dental care professionals.

‘Poor working conditions in the NHS can throw our chances’

Professor Alistair Fitt is health policy lead at Universities UK. He said: ‘The good news from this survey is the strong interest among young people for rewarding healthcare careers. With broad political support to significantly increase the number of healthcare staff, the challenge is how we make NHS careers attainable for many more potential students.

‘The health service needs a pipeline of talent to be able to provide high-quality care. Universities have a vital role in training that talent and stand ready to deliver through innovative approaches to education and training. However, without bold and urgent change, ambitious plans for the future of the NHS in England are set to fall flat.’

Dr Billy Palmer, senior fellow at the Nuffield Trust, stressed the need to improve perceptions of NHS careers. He said: ‘The survey is a reminder of how perceptions of poor working conditions in the NHS can throw our chances of achieving a sustainable, homegrown supply of clinical staff into jeopardy.

‘It not only highlights the need for additional support and more positive perceptions of clinical careers but also brings into stark relief the factors behind the avoidably high leaver rates during degrees and early on in clinicians’ careers.

‘The survey also points at solutions, with around three-quarters of young people more likely to choose to study a health care course at university if their tuition fees could be written off for working in the NHS.

‘We have previously argued that a student loans forgiveness scheme is an instant and affordable way to increase the number of applications to clinical courses, as well as reducing the numbers leaving during training or early in their career.’

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar