The SIHED team have released a series of online CPD training courses focusing on outreach work with young people and career changers, available for free on the HEE E-Learning for Healthcare platform.

In 2020, the number of applications to study Allied Health Professions increased for the first time in several years, with a 17.5% jump in UCAS applications to begin AHP degree courses this year. The change has come about for a number of reasons, including the pandemic, which has raised the profile health careers in general, the re-introduction of government bursaries, and initiatives to promote the AHPs.

One such programme, ‘Strategic Interventions in Health Education Disciplines’, funded by the Office for Students, focused specifically on less well-known AHPs: orthoptics, podiatry, therapeutic radiography, and prosthetics and orthotics. It included the ‘I See The Difference’ campaign and website ( and an extensive outreach programme which visited hundreds of schools and, after schools closed in 2020, ran a series of online webinars for students considering their career options.

While the ‘I See The Difference’ marketing campaign is continuing, funding for the outreach programme has now come to an end. For orthoptics and other AHPs, this presents a potential problem. Young people looking at their options in health and care are still often not aware of some of the less well-known professions. Outreach work provides an important route for helping young people to understand the range of options available to them.

The team from the SIHED programme has developed a series of online CPD training courses focusing on outreach work with young people and career changers. The hope is that these resources, which are free to use and available on the HEE E-Learning for Healthcare platform, will help to inspire more Allied Health Professionals to take part as volunteers in outreach activity.

The SIHED programme’s team of professional outreach officers developed expertise around the promotion of AHPs to young people. Their focus was on the AHPs as a family of professions, rather than on any individual profession. This proved more effective when approaching a school to ask about running outreach activity. Providing information on a range of careers was a better offer to schools, and meant that the information given to young people was of wider interest and value.

The resources do not aim to provide detailed knowledge of all 15 AHPs, but are designed to help outreach volunteers to provide an overview, and to think about ways to present the set of professions, rather than diving into great depth about each one.

Other aspects of the resources are more practical, with support on how to approach schools, how to plan an engaging session, how to think about speaking to different age groups, and how to conquer nerves in public speaking. The resources also provide access to a range of other tools developed through the I See The Difference campaign, such as slides to use in a presentation, and video content from the outreach team.

Outreach work is fun, rewarding, and can make a big difference to the future of professions like orthoptics. It is also something that you can include in your CPD portfolio as a professional activity.

The resources are available, for free, through the HEE E-Learning for Healthcare website. There are three short courses to complete, giving a comprehensive grounding in outreach work for beginners, and support for making outreach work more effective for those already active in this area.

Access the resources here:

If you are interested in finding out more:

  • Access the resources here.

  • Find out more about SIHED programme here.

  • Members can access other resources to help with outreach here.