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Healthcare Degrees: What are the key drivers and influencers in choosing a healthcare career?

   Faculty of Life Sciences

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  Prof Simon Twedell, Dr Samantha McLean  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project will investigate the current factors that influence applicants’ decisions to study for a healthcare degree and pursue a vocational career. From the perspective of pharmacy in the UK, previous research suggested that decisions to choose pharmacy were complex and socially-located. The factors differed according to gender and ethnicity, and include a combination of external motivators such as wanting to study a science-based course, the reputation of a profession, financial reward, and intrinsic motivators relating to personal qualities, experiences, intentions and values such as wanting to help people. In New Zealand, altruistic reasons also emerged as an important motivator along with entrepreneurial intentions and a sizable, though declining number chose pharmacy secondary to medicine or dentistry. Conversely, in a US study most students were encouraged by someone to pursue pharmacy including family members, pharmacists, and students; work and volunteer experiences were also important influences with a few students were influenced by “career day” events.

In nursing, research suggested that the most important influencers were family and friends followed by nurse recruiters and interactions with Faculty, students and nurses in the community. A subsequent study suggested that extrinsic motivations such as job opportunities/job security and intrinsic motivations such as the opportunities to help others and work with other people were important factors.

Once the student had chosen their intended career, previous research in nursing suggested that the primary reasons for studying a particular programme were quality, professional and academic aspirations and practical considerations. Literature in this field has a historical context and was undertaken a number of years ago so therefore it would be timely to reconsider some of these aspects again. This project therefore will investigate the reasons for choosing both a healthcare career and what the influencing factors are when selecting a specific program in the UK and the US as to see if there are similarities and differences.

The aim of the project is to determine why students choose the careers they do and their university programme. Using a mixed methods approach the research will investigate reasons for subject and programme choice across a range of healthcare professional students in the UK and US using survey instruments, interviews, and/or focus groups.
Education (11) Nursing & Health (27) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. A bench fee may also apply to this project, in addition to the tuition fees. UK students may be able to apply for a Doctoral Loan from Student Finance for financial support.
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