My rant following the most recent round of careers expos….

I have just returned from a series of 4 careers expos in the New South Wales towns of Young, Forbes, Dubbo and Bathurst. The dark side of career exposAlthough this website was started especially for high school students considering a career in health and has lots of resources such as videos from real health practitioners and pathways information, there are still three things that I see being overlooked time and time again.

But please don’t think that I’m singling out these 4 towns, because the things that I’m going to mention happen all over the place. I just saw it happen again and thought it’s about time I mentioned it….


1.    The dodgy stuff to look out for

I have been to many careers expos, and heard many sales pitches from different course providers and organisations in attendance. The worst things I have witnessed are things such as:

  • A university who also has a lesser known “college” spruiking their college as though it is the same as attending university, instead of letting prospective students know that you could get a vocational qualification at the college and/or use it as a pathway to their university
  • “Our campus is in a particular glamorous suburb” (which I won’t name because it would give away which organisation it was) – when the campus is really a half hour drive away from that glamorous suburb, in a far less desirable location
  • Trivialisation of complex professions such as nursing – I have seen a health organisation show students how to do CPR (incorrectly) on a “sim man” (mannequin simulator) and then tell them that they are a “born nurse” just for having a go – is it any wonder that in Australia, almost 20% of nurses leave the profession in the first 12 months when they, in my opinion, are being set up to fail?


2.    Applying for courses including medicine, dentistry and/or optometry? You might need to sit the UMAT
  • Registrations for the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) close on 5th June and the test day is 29th July 2015. You may need to sit this test and achieve a good score if you are a grade 12 student and want to apply to courses including medicine, dentistry, optometry or clinical sciences, medical laboratory science in some universities. Please be sure to check the list of courses which require a UMAT score:
  • Last week I personally came across and heard stories about a number of grade 12 students who want to study medicine hadn’t heard of this test.


 3.    Just because you don’t get the ATAR or OP doesn’t mean you can’t get into a course

At careers expos, I often share the story that in my year in optometry, there were about 35 students. While the ATAR from high school at my university was 98 (OP 2), about one third had done other things before entering the course. High school students are usually shocked when they hear this. The backgrounds of people in my course included:

  • A registered nurse
  • A school teacher who did a bridging course in physics to meet the pre-requisite subject requirements for optometry
  • A psychology graduate
  • Someone who had started maths at university, switched to engineering and then got into optometry
  • Someone who had done one year of podiatry at the university and then successfully applied to come across to optometry in second year (the first year podiatry and optometry subjects at our university were almost identical)
  • A graduate from a science degree who had done a thesis
  • Someone who had done the first year of optometry years before, went to play professional golf for a while and then came back to complete the course
  • Someone who, in the first year of our course had spent 7 years at university and didn’t have a degree to their name (and yes, she did finish our course and become an optometrist)

A practice that I locum at on a regular basis also has an optometrist who didn’t complete high school, and worked as a salesman for window coverings for a number of years before exploring new career options and doing grades 11 and 12 by correspondence in his 30s to get into the optometry course.

So if you don’t get the ATAR / OP to get in to the course of your choice directly, make sure you speak with your careers advisor and the admissions officer at the university or universities you want to attend. All is not lost!!


The take home message

Please, if you are a careers advisor or guidance officer, please make sure that those certain students know if they need to sit UMAT, let your students know that there is always more than one way to gain entry into a course, and tell them to do their research when it comes to course and career selection.

Rant over!!

Amanda Griffiths – Founder My Health Career.

P.S. I didn’t have a photo of myself venting my spleen, so the guy I found by artur84 at had to do!!

P.P.S. Also, please don’t let this article give you the idea that all universities and training organisations give misleading sales pitches to prospective students. From what I saw and heard, the quality of information has been very good. There were just a couple of bad apples in the barrel.

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  1. Neel says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Hope you are well.

    We were in touch last year regarding an article for your website.

    We would like to feature on your website regarding the recent announcement by PM Tony Abbott – funding for a new medical school.

    This is devastating news for NSW and all medical students in Australia – as we currently do not have enough internship positions for current graduates.

    A recent Press Release can be found on our website BLOG and we were interviewed by ABC News this morning.

    We would like to reach a wide audience.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Kind regards,

    • My Health Career says:

      Hi Neel,
      Thanks for contacting me.
      I’ve included your comments in an article I’m just about to publish.

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