Allied health students are snapping up jobs' even before graduation' and continuing onto rewarding careers in the health sector as demand for healthcare professionals increases across Australia.
National Job Outlook data by The Department of Employment' Skills' Small and Family Business has estimated that both podiatry and speech pathology will continue to see very strong growth over the next five years.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Podiatry in 2017' CQUniversity graduate Doug Swain has seen his career flourish and has worked his way into his dream role at Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service to assist high-risk podiatry patients.
"Based on the clinical placements I completed through my degree' I received two job offers before graduation. Of these' I chose a private podiatry practice in my hometown of Rockhampton'" Mr Swain said.
"Longer-term I was looking for a career with Queensland Health to assist the high-risk population - this led me to accept different positions over the past three years in the Darling Downs' Wide Bay' Mackay' and now back to Rockhampton for my current role.
"My original time plan was to complete my studies and secure the position I wanted within 10 years' fortunately' I achieved it in nine years!"
Mr Swain believed that his experience in regional areas coupled with hands-on experience at Rockhampton's CQU Health Clinic put him a step ahead of other graduates.
"I deliberately chose placements in regional areas. I found that being a student from CQU earned more self-respect and opportunities as I was able to bring a genuine perspective to the challenges of healthcare in regional settings'" he said.
"Being able to work in the Health Clinic meant I had the chance to treat local people based on the local care environment. This was a great advantage when I moved to regional and rural-based roles."
CQUniversity Head of Course and Senior Lecturer in Podiatry Malia Ho agreed that the diverse scope of podiatry practice can provide endless opportunities for graduates.
"The job market is changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; however' podiatry has great employment prospects with qualified professionals needed to treat to Australia's aging population and increase in chronic conditions such as diabetes'" Dr Ho said.
"Positions in high demand are compounded in regional and rural areas where the demand is even higher' and the supply is very low."
Bachelor of Speech Pathology graduate Jodie Peake followed a similar path with her career taking her from rural Queensland to regional Western Australia.
"I was born and raised in Biloela' approximately 145km from Rockhampton' but my last two placements were allocated to Geraldton in regional Western Australia''" Ms Peake explained.
"Once I completed my studies' I was offered two very amazing job opportunities in Rockhampton' however' after falling in love with WA I decided to turn them down and take a job in Perth at the Autism Association."
After almost one year working to support children and adults on the autism spectrum' Ms Peake has now started a new role at a telehealth company called Spot.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Association but I felt it was time to move into a generalist caseload role with more speech therapy specific work to broaden my experience'" she said.
"Spot is the leading telehealth speech pathology private practice in Australia that services regional' remote and metropolitan clients.
"I see lots of clients that live in isolated areas such as on cattle stations' who otherwise wouldn't be able to access speech pathology services."
CQUniversity Speech Pathology Head of Course Associate Professor Barbra Zupan explained how podiatry students across Australia have embraced the number and variety of speech pathology opportunities available to new graduates.
"Students are able to choose a job that matches their key interests in the field' but also one that is in a location that is desirable to them' particularly if they want to live and work in a regional or rural area'" she said.
"Awareness of the range of services speech pathologists offer to people of all ages is growing which may lead to an increased need for speech pathology services in future.
"As a profession' we are also continuing to explore innovative assessment and treatment approaches' so it's an exciting time for young people to be entering the profession."
Both Assoc. Prof. Barbra Zupan and Ms Peake advocated for young people with an interest in the health industry to consider a career in speech pathology.
"There is most certainly a high demand for private practice' particularly the disability sector now that NDIS is Australia wide'" Ms Peake said.
"But with a large variety of settings speechies can work in early intervention programs' public schools' hospitals' rehabilitation centres' nursing homes' and federal and state institution - this career can really take you anywhere."