Health careers

Early childhood careers in health include maternal and child health nurses, primary school teachers, physiotherapists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.

Maternal and child health nurse

Maternal and child health (MCH) nurses play a vital role in the early childhood sector supporting the development, health and wellbeing of babies and toddlers.

MCH nurses:

  • monitor children's health
  • support maternal health and wellbeing
  • identify health and development concerns early
  • provide intervention and referral where necessary
  • deliver health promotion and education programs
  • provide parenting support.

Maternal and child health nurses work in metropolitan, regional and ruraul locations in a range of settings:

  • in local government
  • parenting centres
  • community health services.

Qualifications

School subjects

Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • maths
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • health and human development
  • VET Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.

University subjects

To practice in Victoria, maternal and child health nurses must:

Before starting maternal and child health studies, at least one year’s experience as a midwife is preferable.

Midwives have traditionally undertaken a three-year university degree in nursing and then completed a postgraduate qualification in midwifery to be eligible for registration. More recently, three-year university degrees in midwifery and double degrees have commenced in Victoria.

Suitable qualifications (depending on interest/area of specialisation include:

  • Bachelor of Nursing (three years)
  • Bachelor of Nursing or Bachelor of Midwifery (four years)
  • Postgraduate studies in nursing.

National registration

A national registration and accreditation scheme for nurses and midwives began on 1 July 2010, and a new National Law (the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009) came into effect to regulate the profession.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) is now responsible for setting standards and policies for the regulation of all nurses and midwives registered in Australia. It will be supported in this task by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The NMBA has taken over the functions previously managed by the Nurses Board of Victoria.

For more information about how the national registration scheme operates, see:

Find resources and practice guidelines for the MCH service

Primary school nurse

School nurses promote child health and wellbeing and assist in early identification of children with potential health related learning difficulties.

Roles and responsibilites include:

  • health screening and monitoring in schools as part of a visiting service
  • health promotion and primary health interventions
  • school community development activities
  • individual student health counselling.

School nurses can work for government and non-government schools in metropolitan, regional or rural locations.

Qualifications

School subjects

Useful subjects include

  • English
  • maths
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • health and human development
  • VET Certificate III inHealth Services Assistance.

University subjects

To work as a nurse, including a school nurse, you’ll need to be a Registered Nurse Division 1 nurse with the AHPRA

Suitable qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Nursing
  • Postgraduate Studies in Nursing (depending on interest/area of specialisation)

Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy is a professional medical treatment focussed on restoring function after disease or injury.

Physiotherapists play a vital role in the early childhood sector supporting the development, health and wellbeing of young children including babies and toddlers.

Physiotherapists may work as part of a health care team, independently in private practice, within the school system or as industry consultants in metropolitan, regional or rural locations.

Roles and responsibilites include:

  • assess development of premature babies
  • plan and provide therapy for children with movement problems or physical disabilities
  • assist individuals with permanent disabilities to maximise their abilities and manage the physical demands of daily living
  • work as part of a team of allied health professionals to provide a multidisciplinary care plan
  • educate children, their families, industry and the community about healthy lifestyles and avoiding injury.

Qualifications

School subjects

Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • advanced maths
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • health and human development
  • physical education
  • VET Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.

University subjects

To practice in Victoria, physiotherapists must:

Completion of Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance may provide some credit to the degree program.

Speech pathologist

Speech pathologists assess and treat children and adults who have a communication disability.

Speech pathologists work in hospitals, community health centres, rehabilitation centres and schools in metropolitan, regional or rural locations.

Roles and responsibilites include:

  • support children who are unable to communicate effectively due to conditions such as:
    • cleft palate
    • hearing loss
    • stuttering, delayed speech or language development
    • cerebral palsy
    • emotional disturbances
  • assess and assist children who have difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • act as a consultant to education, medical, dental and other health professionals
  • povide ongoing counselling, advice andinformation to children and families.

Qualifications

School subjects

Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • advanced maths
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • health and human development
  • VET Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

University subjects

To practice in Victoria, speech pathologists must hold on the following:

  • Bachelor of Health Science
  • Bachelor of Speech Pathology
  • Master of Speech Pathology

Entry can be from Certificate III and IV in Allied Health Assistance. Completion of Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance may provide some credit to the degree program.

Occupational therapist

Occupational therapists work with children and adults to assist them to develop, recover or maintain daily living and work skills.

They work in a range of settings in metropolitan, regional or rural locations.

Qualifications

School subjects

Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • maths
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • health and human development
  • physical education
  • physics and VET Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

University subjects

To practice in Victoria, occupational therapists must:

Some degree programs may provide credits for units from Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance and Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance.