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How to choose the postgraduate course that's right for you

Postgraduate study is a great investment. Here's some ways to narrow down the number choices.

By Simon Sellars Published 06/07/2022

There are many options available in health care to help you develop your career. You can move into education, counselling, public health, informatics and more.

The past couple of years have tested our health care system. The pandemic has highlighted how essential healthcare workers are to a fully functioning society.

A postgraduate qualification gives you the confidence, skills and credibility to take that next step.

It’s a great investment in your future, but how do you choose the course that’s right for you?

Making the choice

Postgraduate options include studying towards a Graduate Certificate, a Graduate Diploma or a Master’s degree in areas like Public Health, Digital Health, Health Informatics and Health Management.

Most postgrad healthcare degrees offer a variety of specialisations or majors. These allow you to build skills and knowledge across different areas – for example, critical care, leadership or clinical practice. Most have graduate certificate and graduate diploma qualifications embedded within them, so you can work toward your master’s degree at your own pace, acquiring career-boosting qualifications along the way. 

The type of degree is one consideration, but what about the mode?

If you’re interested in postgraduate study, you might remember your undergraduate years with fondness. There’s the social aspect, soaking up the atmosphere of higher learning while meeting new people. 

Then, reality bites. If you’re in health care, you’re probably super busy already. You might have family commitments, too. If that sounds like you, then online study is a game changer. Online postgraduate study modes have busy working people in mind, and they are designed in a way that can be managed around your existing commitments. 

What about providers? There are many out there offering postgraduate degrees. Some providers are new, some are old. Does it matter? How can you tell which are reputable and which aren’t? Which offer the best support services, and what should you be looking out for?

Let’s try to answer these questions, and more.

Assess your current situation

Ask yourself: how busy is your current job? How much responsibility do you currently have, and how much time can you take off for study? 

Make a list of your career goals and note down the pros and cons of each change in direction or specialisation. Shortlist the goals with the most pros. 

Now, start to identify the gaps in your experience. How can you fill them so you can meet those goals? That should lead you to a list of providers who could match your needs.

Start to research those providers. Weigh up the pros and cons of each offering. Take advantage of your networks. Ask friends and colleagues if they have any experience of the course you’re interested in. Take a deep dive into LinkedIn and see if anyone in your extended professional circle has studied the course. Contact past and present students at your preferred universities to gain on-the-ground perspectives.

Talk to university career advisors about the jobs you have in mind and the types of degrees that are needed. Research job ads in your targeted fields, noting which degrees are required for the role.

You might also consider finding a mentor in your desired field, who can advise on the best pathways based on their experience and knowledge. 

For more tips, we spoke to Izad Iqbal, Senior Program Lead in the Enrolment Team at the University of Technology Online. 

According to Izad, if you’re serious about taking the next step in your career, there are a couple of key points to remember.

‘Firstly, you must connect your past with your future. You don’t necessarily need to restructure your entire career. With nursing, for example, you could study towards a Master of Public Health, or Nursing, or Health Administration, and include, say, four electives that specialise in health services management. That means you get the best of both worlds. You could even take the Master of Advanced Nursing, which has a very practical element to it, where you almost self-reflect on your career while studying it. This then allows nurses to be able to work towards leadership positions fairly quickly.

‘You should also do your research and choose a reputable institution. I think a lot of people don’t realise the importance of choosing the right institution to give you that credibility when you’re looking for work in a competitive field or looking to make a switch. A good university will really step up in providing the best possible student services, like employment opportunities, and a nurturing environment, which includes course flexibility and support.’

How to find out more

Explore our range of online postgraduate health courses including counselling, leadership & management, mental health, nursing, psychology and public health to find one that suits you.