Career advice please!
I’m looking for some advice and thoughts please about my plan to change career into Health & Safety. Specifically, I’m very interested in:
• Does this career change sound workable???
• Would the ideal start be an admin heavy role in a large company, and then do some part-time study while working?
• I have approximately ten years’ experience in market research, mostly qualitative research about consumer goods and services and government services
• In 2015 I completed a sociology PhD in patient safety. Then I worked in the School of Medicine (SOM) as a research fellow for a couple of years
• I did qualitative market research before my PhD, and I returned to it after working in the SOM because I could not make any progress in a career in hospital safety (there are very few academic and operational roles)
About me – skills and interests
• As an experienced qualitative researcher I’m good at facilitating individual and group discussions, asking questions, listening, and understanding how people think and feel about almost anything
• I’m passionate about safety. My PhD opened the lid on this fascinating – and challenging – topic.
Previously I did not have much respect for safety!
• I’m interested in safety as a socio-cultural-structural process. It’s not only about individuals, tools and technologies, it’s also about organisations, regulation and compliance, production pressures, and cultural norms and assumptions.
Why change career?
• I’ve been doing research about the pandemic, and the health risks of repeat SARS-CoV-2 infection. I am not willing to risk my future wellbeing running unmasked 2.5 hour focus group discussions in stuffy and poorly ventilated group facilities. I don’t want to discuss or debate this here, but I presume the question why this change now needs an answer.
I'm considering other options also, but safety is a strong contender.
My personal preference in most work environments is to seek out practical, hands on, worldly people who understand realistic risk and associated control measures. This requires a certain level of both IQ and EQ. I'd go for problem solvers (and people who can sell the solution) rather than "worry warts". There is a place for a high level academic approach _ but I think there are likely to be few opportunities. Please bear in mind many safety meetings can be held in stuffy and poorly ventilated environments and they can go on for quite some time. Good luck with the change in direction.
I reckon that getting into H&S is like an itch that you just have to scratch, and any career change is workable so long as you work at it.
I would imagine that the ideal start would be to decide where you want to be 5 or 10 years from now and make decisions now that will get you to that goal. Or, what is it about H&S that lights your fire? Organisational change? Organisational influence? Positive changes for individuals, Teams, Projects, and/or thinking processes? What do you want to develop in yourself within the H&S field? Answer those questions, and then go find a role that you think meets those needs. Ain't no one else can answer these questions for you!
Have fun in your journey!
I suggest a medium-sized business for a few years and then move to a larger business.
With your academic background I suggest studying for the post graduate diploma here at Victoria. No need to go on to the research project.
If you are working at the moment I would suggest you try to get on the H&S committee. That would help get you some real life experience in H&S work. Career change is definity possible - I made the switch from sales to H&S, I got a junior H&S role and studied part time to get qualified. There are H&S roles in healthcare though for a lot you need a nursing background especially for patient safety. Currently I work in H&S in healthcare as part of the quality team, my area of responsibilty is on the worker side rather than patient so nursing experience required
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