Allied health professionals are healthcare professionals distinct from nursing, dentistry, medicine, and several other medical professions. They offer a wide variety of technical, diagnostic, support, and therapeutic services in association with health care delivery. Some of these professionals may be employed in institutions and hospitals, while others may work in private practices. In addition to collaboration and cross-training with physicians and other health care providers, all allied health professionals have specialized training and education that enable them to deliver high quality services. They are expected to be skilled in information technology, office practice management, scheduling, time management, safety protocols, ethics, health information management, communication, patient education, and medical office practice.
There are numerous sectors in which allied health professionals operate. These sectors include generalist and specialty practitioners; acute care and outpatient services; diagnostic and treatment facilities; hospital and surgical care; home health agencies; physician’s offices; physical therapy and rehabilitation services; pharmacy; and professional organizations such as the American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Health Service Corps. There is even an expanding allied health industry sector that focuses on care management, data management, information exchange, client management, and payment systems. All allied health professionals have an entry-level medical assistant degree and the majority are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in their particular specialty.
A doctor of medicine, or PhD, is one of the highest recognized titles in the allied health professions. Doctor of Medicine (MD) and doctors of osteopathy are also popular titles. Both doctor of medicine and doctor of osteopathy have earned distinction in the United States by ranking high in national rankings. With a doctor of medicine or PhD, allied health professionals can specialize in a specific area of medicine, including obstetrics/maternity, pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, neurology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, trauma, internal medicine, oncology, women and children’s health, and much more.
The allied health professionals with doctorate degrees earn more salary than other allied health professionals. Some of the areas that many allied health professionals choose to specialize in include: clinical nurse specialist, doctor of nursing, RN, MA, MSN, and nurse practitioner. A clinical nurse specialist is a registered nurse who has obtained a master’s degree or higher in the field of nursing. These nurses provide routine patient care in the healthcare setting and act as primary caregivers for patients with a range of disabilities.
Another specialization that allied health professionals can pursue is forensic nursing. Professionals in this niche help the police department with all aspects of investigating crimes, such as homicide, suicide, child abuse, and theft. Other allied health professionals can go on to become speech-language pathologists, critical care physicians, pediatricians, gynecologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, medical officers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacy technicians, physical and rehabilitation specialists, physicians and dentists, optometrists, physicians and psychiatrists, and nurses. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will expand at a faster rate than other healthcare sectors combined over the next decade.
Speech-language Pathologists (SLPs) provide care and assistance to people with communication disorders such as fluency, hearing loss, understanding of speech, and problems with swallowing. Some of these professionals work directly with the patient, while others may be employed by hospitals or other health facilities. Diagnostic Medical Oncologists is doctors who diagnose and treat cancer or other cancers that originate outside of the body. Other allied health professionals who work in the diagnostic medical sciences field are radiologists, nutritionists, pharmacists, medical secretaries, medical billers, and administrative personnel.
In the allied health professions, there are also many workers such as technical assistants, administrative assistants, information technology support managers, clinical laboratory technicians, office managers, medical secretaries, direct patient care technicians, medical office managers, pharmacy technicians, hospital counselors, and nurse aids. These allied health professionals combine their knowledge of science and technology with their skills in business, management, and marketing to deliver patient care in a professional yet compassionate manner. There is a demand for these professionals in private, government, and private industry. As technology advances, the number of job openings for these professionals will increase.
Some of these professionals may specialize in a particular area such as radiology, gynecology, cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology, or clinical exercise science. They may also work in schools teaching health information or teaching psychology, physical therapy, or other allied health professions. Allied health tech training involves both classroom instruction and on the job training. Those who choose to train as assistants will normally complete associate degrees and two years of on the job training in a related field. Many assistants also receive one year of training as licensed practical nurses (LPN) before becoming certified in their chosen field.