Reasons students choose a career in the Allied Health Professions is focus of new national study led by University of Winchester and Health Education England

26 Feb 2021
Lecturer kneeling on the floor looking up at student and smiling

The University of Winchester and Health Education England (HEE) are collaborating on a national project to understand why student allied health professionals (AHPs) in England have chosen this as their career path.

The project is recruiting AHP students studying in England to complete an online questionnaire exploring their motivations for choosing an AHP career, the sources that influenced their choice and barriers to entering these careers.

Lead researcher on the study, Dr Lucy Wallis of the University of Winchester, said: "Nationally, a key priority of the NHS People Plan is increasing applications to undergraduate AHP education to meet the growing demand for AHPs.

"At a local level, the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Winchester is increasing the number of AHP courses it offers. As part of this, the Faculty aims to maximise the benefits of collaboration across AHPs, while maintaining and respecting their profession-specific uniqueness."

"Choosing to become a physiotherapist, paramedic, podiatrist, diagnostic radiographer or other allied health professional sets you on a rewarding career path, however many people are yet to hear about many of these professions," said Beverley Harden, AHP Lead, Health Education England and Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester.

"As these professions continue to grow, we are working with the University of Winchester to understand how best to widen access for all and ensure people learn about these incredible professions early in their career thinking."

The information obtained through the online questionnaire on careers choice and perceptions of AHPs will provide an insight to support policy-makers and educators develop strategies to promote the professions and improve recruitment. The questionnaire will also allow for the less well-known AHPs to be represented and key information on these professions to be collected.

Fourteen professions comprise the Allied Health Professions: art therapists; dietitians; dramatherapists; music therapists; occupational therapists; operating department practitioners; orthoptists; osteopaths; paramedics; physiotherapists; chiropodists and podiatrists; prosthetists and orthotists; diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, and speech and language therapists. Together they make up the third-largest workforce in the NHS. They work across every sector of the health and social care system and all clinical specialities.

The University of Winchester project team includes researchers, lecturers and students from the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. The project is being led by Dr Rachel Locke and Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester and National AHP lead Professor Beverley Harden has commissioned, and is overseeing, the project.

The questionnaire is open until 15 March to all AHP students studying in England. To take part, visit:

For more information about the questionnaire and the research project, visit the Health Education England website or the lead researcher Dr Lucy Wallis at:

Four physiotherapy students at the University of Winchester have promoted the research and have written blogs about their experiences on the project as part of their placements with HEE.

Dan Henson and TJ Okor on student placements

Lucy Dyer: Why I became a physiotherapy student

Sam Nunn: Why I chose physiotherapy

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