How To Become A Healthcare Assistant
Healthcare assistants play a key role in ensuring the comfort and safety of medical patients. They support both doctors and nurses and work in hospitals, GP clinics, or even patients’ homes.
Interested in the idea but not sure how to become a healthcare assistant? Read on for our quickfire guide, all about being an HCA.
What Does a Healthcare Assistant Do?
A day in the life of a healthcare assistant can vary but may include things like helping patients to wash and dress, serving food and possibly feeding patients, taking medical measurements, (temperatures, pulse rates, etc.,) and samples such as blood and urine.
They might also help to prepare patients for surgery, especially if they’re a hospital-based HCA.
Aside from general tasks, the role of a Healthcare Assistants can require you to offer support to patients. Patients who need healthcare assistants are often vulnerable and scared, and a reassuring word or calm smile can work wonders to alleviate embarrassment or discomfort.
How Much Does A Healthcare Assistant Earn?
On average, a healthcare assistant earns on average £16,000 – £18,000 a year, with assistants in London typically getting paid more. Those working in the private sector may also receive higher salaries.
What Skills Are Needed To Become A Healthcare Assistant
As we’ve mentioned, the role of a healthcare assistant is to make the patient’s experience whilst receiving care more comfortable.
You’ll need a lot of empathy and the ability to chat with people from all walks of life
Being organised and having a good understanding of the patients you’ll be helping and their individual needs is a vital skill
An ability to respond quickly to changing situations and the flexibility to work on different wards with different responsibilities is a great skill to have
This role can require you to be involved with a variety of different situations in different settings, so being able to adapt easily is key
What Qualifications Are Needed To Become A Healthcare Assistant?
You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a healthcare assistant, though you’ll need good literacy and numeracy skills and you may be asked for GCSEs or equivalent to prove them.
However, as positions may be competitive, it can be a good idea to have taken some healthcare-related courses.
The University of Essex’s MSc International Healthcare Management, which can be studied part-time, is perfect for people who live a busy schedule
Does Becoming A Healthcare Assistant Need Any Work Experience?
Becoming a healthcare assistant doesn’t need any work experience, though any experience in a clinical setting, such as a GP reception, may be advantageous.
Healthcare assistants receive inductions in which they learn the basic skills and are offered guidance in their early careers by more experienced HCAs and nursing staff.
Career Prospects For A Healthcare Assistant
Being a healthcare assistant can be a great way to get experience in the medical field. This means that careers in nursing, midwifery or even medicine will look favourably on any time spent as an HCA.
Time spent exploring the different wards and specialities will have given you a great idea of where you might like to progress. Maybe working with pregnant mothers sparks joy for you, and a career in midwifery is the answer! Maybe you love helping the elderly, and you decide to pursue a career in social care.
That said, all those career paths require additional training and degrees. The good news is that many employers will support their workers in working part-time whilst studying towards a medical degree.
If you’re not interested in a career further into medicine, there are many opportunities to get into the administrative side of things. Knowing how wards work and specific medical terms can be a huge advantage when it comes to entering positions like a medical typist or secretary. You could even end up in a management position where your first-hand knowledge of the ward will be a boon for your employees.