Exploring STEM: Healthcare Courses

Written by
Torera Akinmoyede
Last Updated
September 12, 2021 17:27

When I was younger, I wanted to be a pop star. That dream was quickly shattered when I realised I had no musical skills to speak of. Absolutely none. After watching Legally Blonde, like millions of other little girls I wanted to be a lawyer. Spoiler Alert, that dream also didn’t last because the thought of confrontation… in public, well that’s an absolute nightmare. If I’m being honest to this very day, I still don’t know what I want to be, or what I want to do. If someone had sat me down and helped me explore all my options, I would have been forever grateful. So today that’s what we are here to do for you.

The world of healthcare is a maze. There’s so many options and choices and if you want to go into the healthcare industry, there’s something for everyone. From Paramedic Sciences, to Biomedical Sciences, you will more than likely find something that fits you (as long as you enjoy Biology.)  


Biomedical Sciences, also known as Biomed, is one of the laboratory-based healthcare courses. The course is 3 years long and it teaches you about anatomy and the interactions things have with the body. A degree in biomed can get you far, you can stay in STEM and become a scientist, a health consultant or a researcher, or you could even go into law, or journalism. The options are limitless. To get into Biomedical Sciences, Biology needs to be your best friend, and honestly, it is a really interesting subject as long as you can handle the workload. Chemistry is also quite helpful as you will be working with many chemicals and understanding the components of many medications. You will thrive in this course if you like structure and repetition or if you’re not a people person. Many people who go into Biomedical Sciences do it with the knowledge that they are hoping to move to a medicine graduate course as the course teaches you roughly the same content as the first three years of the medicine course.


When you think about healthcare, I assume that the first thing that comes to your mind is medicine. The medicine course is what you do to become a (medical) doctor. Within it, there is a plethora of specialties, from neurology to Surgery. Once again, this range of specialties means you have an options and can choose one to match your personality, whether you want to be very interactive with the patients, or if you want minimal patient interaction. Getting into a medical course is very competitive. You need determination and persistence, in fact, many of those who have gone into medicine say the hardest part was getting in. A good work ethic is what you need to be a doctor. Hard work and determination will reap great rewards. Once again biology will need to be a subject you enjoy as anatomy is a huge part of medicine. This 5–7 year course often requires 3 STEM subjects in A Level before you can apply for it. Being a doctor takes a lot of empathy and emotional strength so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. 


The study of Pharmacology looks at the way drugs interact with your body, looking at the make up of drugs as well as researching and developing treatments for illnesses. Unlike the previous two courses, pharmacology requires an interest in chemistry. Similarly to biomed, a pharmacology course will lead you to many laboratory jobs, research and even healthcare consultant jobs. This 3 year course will teach you everything you need to know and prepare you with all the laboratory skills you need to face the pharmacology world. 


When I say Pharmacists, I don’t mean the people at the till in your local pharmacy. I mean the magicians who are able to diagnose illnesses and recommend treatments as well as read the handwriting of doctors to give you your prescriptions. A 4 year Pharmacy course will have you learning hundreds of illnesses as well as the medications needed to treat them. Learning about dosage and anatomy, pharmacists will be working alongside doctors as they specialise with diagnoses. However, if you do not want a more clinical setting, you could be a community pharmacist hidden behind the walls of a local pharmacy diagnosing the people of your community. Being a pharmacist allows you to create and grow your own chain of local pharmacies. You need to have good communications, an interest in both Biology and Chemistry as well as a great memory. Pharmacists are an integral part of the community and being one is incredibly rewarding.


Do you want to be there and help people during what may be some of the scariest moments of their lives? If you want to help people during their emergencies, maybe being a paramedic is for you. Similarly to medicine, you learn about anatomy, although you don’t go as  in depth as the medical students. You need to have an interest in the body, knowledge of how it works and how to react in emergency situations. This emotionally demanding course can be very rewarding. Saving people's lives or helping them be comfortable in their final’s moments could be the way you give back to the community. A degree in Paramedic Sciences will see you doing something different every day, meeting different people and learning more about the human body than you could ever believe. 


Anatomy, I wonder how much it has been mentioned so far. But Radiography, whether you want to do therapeutic radiography and working with those fighting cancer, or do diagnostic radiography to help diagnose patients, you will need to have an incredible knowledge of anatomy. Being able to work intricate machinery to look into a human body and notice deformities or other things that may be wrong in order to help diagnoses, not in terms of therapeutic radiography in order to help treat illnesses. Just like many of the other courses mentioned, understanding anatomy and enjoying radiography means having an interest in Biology. However, unlike the other healthcare courses, it means you need to enjoy working with technology. Being able to work complicated technology as well as understand anatomy is a skill that no other healthcare courses give you access to.

Although there are so many options for things to do, something that will tap the enjoyment of anyone interested in healthcare, not knowing what you want to do is completely normal. Although the world may expect you to know from a young age what you want to do, it’s okay to be clueless, to have no idea. To research and have trial runs and change your mind because nothing in this world is set in stone there’s always time to start something new and it is never too late to get into STEM. 

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Torera Akinmoyede is a writer and Content Creator for Project Ignite Her. You can find her managing the TikTok account and reading some epic books.

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