Professional development and training in healthcare

December, 2015

To develop your healthcare career, it’s necessary to ensure that your skills are up to date and you consider relevant professional training programmes

Do I need to do postgraduate study?

In some jobs, such as doctor, pharmacist and clinical psychologist, postgraduate study is an essential aspect of the professional training qualification.

For other areas, such as nursing and midwifery, you can consider post-registration courses at postgraduate level to specialise, for example, a nurse or midwife training to be a health visitor. You can search for post-registration courses via the Health Careers course finder.

To find relevant postgraduate courses in the UK, search health sciences courses and research.

Should I join a professional body?

For many healthcare roles, it is a requirement that you are registered with a professional body/council. Each organisation has its own criteria for continuing professional development (CPD) that needs to be met in order to maintain registration with them and practise in the UK.

Membership of a professional body can offer a number of other benefits, including:

  • networking;
  • latest industry news;
  • conferences and training events.

Health Careers has a learning and skills advice line for healthcare workers looking for a job in the NHS as well as offering advice on career progression for NHS employees.

Which professional qualifications are recognised in healthcare?

There is a professional body for the majority of occupations in the healthcare sector, with these regulators overseen by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which also provides information on education and training.

The following organisations provide industry training and approve programmes of study, while administering professional registers:

  • General Dental Council (GDC) - regulates dentists and dental care professionals and holds a register of qualified dentists and specialists, such as orthodontists.
  • General Medical Council (GMC) - registers doctors to practise medicine in the UK and regulates the standards required at all stages of training to be a doctor. Also has useful information on training for medical students, trainee doctors and those thinking about studying medicine.
  • General Optical Council (GOC) - as the regulator for optical professions, it registers optometrists, dispensing opticians and students.
  • General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) - approves pharmacy qualifications and maintains a register of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) - regulates 16 health and social care professions including clinical scientists, physiotherapists and radiographers. Also holds a register of approved programmes of study and health professionals who have met these standards.
  • Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) - ensures that nurses and midwives in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland keep their skills and knowledge up to date and uphold professional standards.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of England - a professional membership organisation that represents surgeons in the UK and overseas. It supervises training and details a full programme of exams and courses.
  • Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) - an independent, multi-disciplinary charity and membership body for public health professionals that offers member benefits (with a special package for student members) and accredits a range of qualifications for CPD.