Health development officer
A variety of sport and health-related roles led Lauren into her current job, which she finds very rewarding...
How did you get your job?
During my time at university I worked as a casual gym instructor and through funding my own YMCA Fit qualifications I started taking group exercise classes. I was then able to secure employment as a gym instructor and gain more experience. In doing this I developed an interest in working with people living with long-term health conditions.
I later became the health and fitness duty officer at Carluke Leisure Centre before gaining a post within development services as the girls development officer. A short stint within Active Schools has brought me to my current role as the health development officer for South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture.
Whether it's by becoming a casual gym instructor or lifeguard, get into an organisation, build rapport, be a team player and keep your standards high
How relevant is your degree to your job?
My degree in sport and physical activity is relevant to my current job as it deals with physical activity for communities, people living with long-term health conditions, adult obesity etc. However, it was my work experience in the sport and fitness industry which armed me with the correct tools for the job.
What are your main work activities?
My working days vary due to the nature of my job as I work with multiple partner agencies including the NHS. I can be attending regional steering group meetings with senior health improvement practitioners at a hospital in the morning, have a few hours in the office responding to customer enquiries and then be chairing a health and fitness meeting in the afternoon where all of the health and fitness duty officers within South Lanarkshire come together to discuss programmes, training, staffing, development etc.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
My role has developed through the ever-strengthening relationship between NHS Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture. I would either like to progress into a senior management role within South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture or within the health improvement sector of NHS Lanarkshire.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I genuinely enjoy all aspects of my job. It is extremely diverse and ever changing. There are always demands in terms of finance and resources, however I get inspired by what is able to be achieved when you work with partners who are as dedicated as you are to improving the health and quality of life for the residents of South Lanarkshire. One of the best things about working in this sector is the freedom to really develop and implement programmes and interventions which are held in high regard by the community.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
I don't find my role challenging as such (everything is a learning curve) however you are constantly spinning multiple plates with numerous programmes, projects and partners. You have to constantly be on the ball and ensure everything is presented to a high standard. Priority management and organisational skills are key.
Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?
If you are looking to get into this area I would recommend getting all the experience when you can. It is imperative that you get your foot in the door as early as possible; it's unrealistic to think that once you graduate you can secure a development officer job without working your way up. Whether it's by becoming a casual gym instructor or lifeguard, get into an organisation, build rapport, be a team player and keep your standards high.
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