Unique project to provide route for Armed Forces into health careers

The University of Leicester has created the first project of its kind to provide a route for armed forces personnel into healthcare careers.

The unique Armed Forces into Allied Health project maps qualifications gained in the armed forces to the entry requirements for courses in Midwifery, Nursing, Operating Department Practice (ODP) and Physiotherapy.

By formally recognising veterans’ existing knowledge and education, the scheme will widen participation in allied health professions and realise the untapped potential for armed forces personnel transitioning to civilian life.

Vicky Hain spent 17 years in the Royal Engineers before assessing her post-service career options. She completed her studies to become an Operating Department Practitioner in 2020. She said: “I really enjoyed my career in the Army but I wanted to do something completely different. I was keen to learn a new profession, but wanted one that had a huge scope for continued career development and progression.

“Since being on my degree course, I have been involved with the Council of Deans of Health – Student Leadership Programme. This has opened up myriad opportunities to explore the wider NHS.  Getting involved with conferences, projects and working groups in the arms-length organisations such as NHS Improvement and Health Education England has allowed me to see the full extent of potential roles for Allied Health Professions.

“Your command, leadership, management and teamwork skills are completely transferable and will be very much appreciated. Whilst the Allied Health Professions might not be as well-known as doctors and nurses, they can be found at all levels of the NHS and there are plenty of ex-military throughout.”

Victoria Hain spent 17 years in the Royal Engineers before completing her studies to become an Operating Department Practitioner in 2020.

The project has been led by Amanda Cox, lecturer in Operating Department Practice within the School of Allied Health Professions. She said: “I have a number of family members and friends who have served in the Armed Forces, so creating this project has been close to my heart. As an admissions tutor, I wanted ex-military personnel to be able to apply for healthcare programmes, acknowledging the hard work and qualifications they undertook whilst serving.

“These courses are often not recognised in undergraduate provision and this needed to be addressed and recognised. I am so happy that Armed Forces personnel now have an equitable pathway onto our courses at Leicester and look forward to working with Health Education England to expand this initiative nationally.”

While the scheme is currently unique to the University of Leicester, it is supported by Health Education England, which provides national leadership and coordination for the education and training within the health and public health workforce within England.

Paul Chapman, Allied Health Profession (AHP) Programme Manager for Health Education England (HEE), added: “Ensuring the future supply of an AHP workforce is a key objective for Health Education England and workforce planning. The HEE AHP programme has been working closely with colleagues at Step into Health to raise the profile of the 14 AHP professions and encourage former and current Armed Forces personnel to look at a AHP profession as future career choice.

“Armed Forces personnel have extensive transferable skills that allow them to meet and support the transition to that of an AHP career. The University of Leicester’s Armed Forces into Allied Health programme is an excellent initiative that can assist and support Armed Forces personnel to join those who have already taken up a career as an AHP.”

The University of Leicester was formed in 1921 as a living memorial to the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who made sacrifices during the First World War, and celebrates its Centenary year in 2021. The University is also a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant, which states that veterans should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.