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Lawrence Ambrose changed careers from the Royal Navy to Podiatrist

14th October 2020

Lawrence Ambrose was a Radar plotter and seaman in the Royal Navy from 1988- 1993 with his service including the first Gulf War and a tour of the Antarctic, but when he left, plans for his next career were not foremost in his mind.

“I was young and yearned for the freedom, so I went travelling and put my career on hold.”

Whilst never regretting the decision to travel, Lawrence realised that he hadn’t taken full advantage of the resettlement options open to him.

“It was only after a few years on ‘civvy street’ that I realised I had to go back to college. I knew I wanted a career in health, looked at a few options and Podiatry ticked all the boxes for me. I could work in both the NHS and independent sectors simultaneously, and it would provide guaranteed work – an important consideration for a mature student”.

Like many people who enter an allied health profession as their second career, Lawrence’s first experience of Podiatry was when he needed the care of a Podiatrist himself.

“I’d been to a Podiatrist as I was suffering knee pain whilst running and had this sorted through exercise and orthoses.”

Living in Australia at the time, Lawrence knew that to be a Podiatrist he was going to need a degree in Podiatric Medicine, so he started by doing an evening class in anatomy & physiology. This was followed by a one-year science access course, back in London, and he was then in a position to apply to do a BSc (Hons) in Podiatric Medicine at University College, London.

Looking back on his career in Podiatry, Lawrence recognises many similarities between the forces and the NHS.

“They are huge organisations with great support structures where continual development is actively encouraged. When I left the Navy, I missed the camaraderie of going through tough times with good friends and celebrating achievements together, but when I started working for the NHS, I got some of that feeling back; the team have each other’s backs and are working for the greater good.

As a Podiatrist you are continually speaking to people, working through problems to reach solutions as part of a team, including the patient and colleagues from health and social care, with the ultimate aim of improving the patient’s quality of life. As a Podiatrist you can take your career in any number of different directions whether your interest is in sports medicine, MSK, diabetes, surgery, forensics or in my case clinical governance which led me to my current role in policy and public affairs. So, if you like people and enjoy problem solving it’s the career for you.

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: www.militarystepintohealth.nhs.uk

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 https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/allied-health-professions/helping-ensure-essential-supply-ahps/making-step-health-case-studies

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