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Victoria Hain changed careers from the Royal Engineers to Operating Department Practitioner

20th November 2020

Victoria Hain was an Officer in the Royal Engineers until 2017 when she decided, after 17 years and a fantastically varied global career, that it was time to leave.

“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, not because that was necessarily my aim, but a good career should always have options as it stops people becoming stale.” She had seen allied health careers within the military, particularly physiotherapy and paramedics, but it was a personal experience that introduced her to the role of Operating Department Practitioner. “I needed surgery on a broken bone, and I got chatting to the Operating Department Practitioner. The role interested me straight away so I did a bit more research and decided, it was for me.” Vicky left the Army and applied to study for a BSc in Operating Department Practice at the University of Leicester. The most straightforward route for Vicky was to apply through the University and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) as her previous qualifications gave her the necessary UCAS points, but when this is not the case universities can take life experience and less formal qualifications into account as part of an application. As with many people leaving a forces career for an Allied Health Profession, one big similarity between the two careers, jumped out for Vicky; “The sense of humour! Also, working in a defined role within a wider organisation, which has variety and the opportunity to progress. ”Having already established a career it may seem like a big step to start again, but the skills you have developed in your military career will be of great help and open up opportunities. “If you want a fresh challenge and are considering an Allied Health Profession, just do it! Whilst there is a bit of a financial hit during studying, you are about to start your next career and might work for a further 30 years, so why not do something a bit different?” “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.”

If you are leaving the armed forces and considering an allied health profession, use the time you have as wisely as possible to prepare for your release. Speak to as many people as you can prior to setting off on a particular course. A career in health and the NHS is worthwhile and enables you to continue contributing to society.”

For more information and to connect with local employers in your area please visit:

Health Education England has spoken to a number of AHPs who have previously worked in the armed forces to develop a suite of video and written case studies to share their real experiences making their step into a career in the NHS. Find out more here

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