I have a scholar already for the extra XP and the ID. My cleric is not that strong, yet. I really had trouble trying to decide what to take. If I can find a water master, though, I'll take one after I go for Wromthrax, because I don't have Water Walk yet.
I use potions to fill that healing gap, or back off and rest if necessary. Also, I use a lot of arrows, especially early (like in the Barrows), backing up while shooting until I run out of room to back up.
A scholar is an excellent hireling. The XP bonus stacks with a Teacher or an Instructor. :)
I suggest only getting the hirelings that provide Water Walk, Fly, or Town Portal when you have a specific task for them (like "Time to collect the golem part on the islands in Avlee"). They take a LOT of gold and you rarely need what they provide.