What is Allied Health? 5 Best Types of Allied Health Professionals

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Photo by: RODNAE Productions / Pexel Copyrights December 8th, 2020

When we hear about health professionals, the typical nurse and doctor immediately spring to mind. But in the twenty-first century, the healthcare industry is an area that is constantly changing. There are plenty of jobs that fall under the category of “allied health,” and they are essential to the diagnosis and provision of healthcare. 

1. What is Allied Health?

Allied health refers to medical professions other than nursing and physicians. It refers to the majority of healthcare care workers who work alongside other specialists to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of diseases and health problems. It constitutes the remaining members of the medical team, which helps with technological difficulties, diagnosis, and therapy.  

In clinics, labs, and administrative offices, allied healthcare employees engage with patients directly or indirectly. They engage with patients in collaboration with physicians, and they may also work as specialists with patients on an individual basis. Examples of allied health professions include psychologists, pharmacists, environmental health specialists, dental hygienists, nutritionists, and others. Rehabilitative care, nutrition, mental health, the elderly, musculoskeletal health, exercise and sport, and disability are the major areas in health care systems where allied health practitioners may be found.

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Photo by: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash copyrights May 6, 2020

The exact concept of allied health varies from region to region. In the United States, for example, there is a legal definition of what is an allied health profession. In general, allied health refers to a vast group of healthcare professionals in charge of maintaining both the support systems for healthcare practitioners and the administration of healthcare.

An allied health professional is a health professional who has postsecondary education or training in a healthcare-related science, ranging from a certificate to a Ph.D. degree. They also have some of the tasks for providing medical care or associated services, such as dietary and nutrition services, health promotion, rehabilitation services, public health management of health systems, and preventative services.

This term encompasses a wide range of crucial jobs that contribute significantly to our healthcare system and, consequently, to our economy.

2. What is the Difference Between Allied Health and Medical Professionals?

Medical and allied health professionals often work together but their roles and responsibilities vary from each other. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists are among the medical professionals who typically concentrate on identifying and treating illnesses. They frequently collaborate directly with patients to find solutions and offer care.

The task they do with healthcare professionals help the professionals to do their jobs effectively. Such as a medical biller, who manages administrative and operational tasks, or radiologic technicians giving X-rays and photographs to assist in the diagnosis of illnesses by doctors and other healthcare professionals, all of these help physicians, nurses, and others to focus on patients.

Then another significant distinction is that the health services field needs postgraduate degrees as well as several years of study whereas to start working in an allied health role, you don’t require as much schooling. Herzing, for instance, provides several allied health degree programs that can be finished in two years or less, as well as degree route alternatives that help you continue your study and maybe progress in your job.

3. What Qualities are Required to Work in Allied Health?

Employers seek the following qualities in an allied health professional:

  • Effective Communication:

Considered allied health professionals are frequently expected to work with advanced medical information. They must be able to convey, interpret information and educate patients in both written and verbal ways. They should be able to explain concepts and terms to patients while also talking with medical health care providers and other staff in appropriate professional speech-language.

  • Personable Character: 

The amount of time you spend one-on-one with patients depends on the field in which you serve. Patients may feel anxious or scared when they enter your clinical laboratory; nevertheless, by being personable, you may be able to put them at ease. To establish a comfortable environment, you might ask the patient about them or list their questions or concerns.

  • Teamwork:

Teamwork is vital for a successful career in allied health since all of them have the common goal of helping patients and ensuring they receive the best possible treatment. Being a good teammate and maintaining a positive attitude go a long way toward ensuring that everyone can collaborate to achieve these common goals.

4. Where do Allied Health Professionals Work?

An allied health professional can work practically everywhere that healthcare or wellness services are offered, however, the depending upon the actual location and availability are commonly calculated by the role, educational status, and experiences. Such as medical assistants can work at clinics, nursing homes, government institutions, and schools, or they might travel to different facilities as needed. If you want to work in a certain place, you should look into whether allied health occupations are available there.

  • Personal Practice:

Some allied health practitioners have their practices. They are professionals to whom patients turn when their primary care physicians prescribe additional testing or therapy. Physical and mental health therapists, nutritionists, dietitians, and others can open their own offices. These professionals normally work in their own offices, although they may have strong relationships with local hospitals, clinics, or other private practices through which they can send and receive recommendations or conduct appointments.

  • Clinics and Hospitals

Many allied healthcare practitioners work in hospitals or clinics alongside doctors and nurses. They have access to communicate with the patients and even they can be present in the doctors’ offices during the treatment. Allied health workers can also carry out administrative activities and tasks. Diagnostic medical sonographers work in the hospital to handle and use medical machines, equipment, and gadgets.

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Photo by: Wendy Wei / Pexel Copyrights September 21st, 2019

The allied health workers work with other healthcare professionals such as doctors or nurses to treat patients at hospitals. Sometimes, a patient’s physicians and health care providers consult with an allied health professional so even if the allied health professional works mostly outside of a hospital or clinic, they may still conduct part of their tasks there.

  • Work from Home

Allied health professionals who work largely in administration or who utilize internet information and billing usually work from home. This is getting more prevalent as technology improves access to documents and databases from everywhere. Medical billers, for example, can access financial details from their home computers. Other allied health professions, such as coders, and transcriptionists, medical writers, can also work from home.

5. Why Pursue a Career in Allied Health?

So, some of you might be wondering why you should opt for a career in allied health. What are the benefits you will get if you pursue an allied health career? Well, there are some excellent reasons to keep allied health professionals on your career list, even though your priorities and preferences will undoubtedly differ.

5.1 Rapid Growth in the Field:

If you’re ready to invest your efforts, time, and money in a career in allied health education then you must look for a career path with some long-term security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 15% increase in employment for healthcare vocations between 2019 and 2029. Compared to any other occupational category, this prediction equates to about 2.4 million healthcare employees over that time.

There are various reasons for this expansion in the healthcare profession, one of which is the enormous baby boomer population in the United States, which is aging out of employment and into the age bracket that requires the most healthcare services. This implies that firms must find methods to replace workers in their existing workforces while also preparing for the added demand that comes with such a big group of individuals reaching retirement age. Overall, working in healthcare is a great profession.

5.2 Your Work Makes a Difference:

There are many occupations available that provide only a steady salary and nothing more. That’s acceptable for some people, but many would rather have a profession that contributes to a worthwhile purpose. Jobs in allied healthcare are related to preserving and enhancing others’ health, either directly or indirectly.

According to a Gallup Workplace survey, employees who exhibit a high level of involvement and well-being are 42% more likely to look at their entire life positively which means an interesting career that gives you a feeling of purpose might have significant benefits.

5.3 Lower Barriers for Qualification:

It takes a long time to qualify to become a doctor or to hold any other position in the healthcare industry. While the majority of allied health professions may require a similar level of education and training to that of a physician, they mostly have far shorter qualification periods.

Many career paths in allied health typically need at least an associate degree. This group of professionals includes pharmacy technicians, physical therapist assistants, medical assistants, health information technicians, radiologic technologists, surgical technologists, and others. That’s amazing news for anyone looking to launch a successful healthcare profession ahead.

6. What are Some Allied Health Careers?

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study, more than 60% of healthcare professions are in allied health, and the Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP) lists 55 allied health job opportunities. Some of them are as follows:

  • Healthcare executives
  • Assistants in occupational and physical therapy
  • Dental hygienists and assistants
  • Cardiovascular, surgical, and radiologic technicians
  • Medical Assistants

7. Types of Allied Health Professionals

Allied health professionals include a wide range of health providers, but you can categorize them into five groups:

7.1 Primary Care Provider: 

A primary care provider is first the contact point for patients and health care professionals. They usually work at a medical institution or clinical laboratory. This might be at an urgent care facility, a hospital, or a community health Centre. Primary care professionals frequently collaborate with doctors to identify and treat patients’ problems. Here is a list of primary care allied health professionals:

  • Pharmacists:

A pharmacist delivers drugs and occasionally suggests over-the-counter medications to consumers. They may also be in charge of a pharmacy’s operations.

What is allied health? 5 best types of allied health professionals
Photo by: cottonbro studio / Pexel copyrights July 9th, 2021
  • Health Care Technicians:

A healthcare technician helps doctors and nurses with medical activities and makes patients feel more comfortable at clinics or hospitals.

  • Dental Hygienists:

They work under the supervision of a certified dentist. They act as dental assistants that help provide dental regular cleaning and preventive dental care.

  • Community Health Professionals:

A community health professional assists people in obtaining health care when their place or condition makes it difficult for them to do so. They serve as a link between the community and health, social, and government sectors.

  • Certified Nursing Assistants:

A certified nursing assistant works under the direction of a certified nurse to provide care to patients.

7.2 Promoters of Health:

Various allied health professions teach individuals about healthy living. Some of them work for charitable organizations, while others work in community centers to educate the public, with the primary goal of educating underprivileged groups of people. Some may work for the government, teaching people about health issues and contributing to the establishment of healthcare policy. Businesses may hire health promotion professionals to come to their offices and discuss health problems and practices. Here are a few roles in health promotion for allied health professionals:

  • Health Service Manager:

A health service manager also known as a health coordinator is responsible for overseeing the organizational or administrative sides of patient care within healthcare facilities, such as creating vendor relationships.

  • Environmental Health Specialists:

They teach clients and oversee policies on environmental concerns such as cleanliness, food safety, and health threats.

  • Dieticians or Nutritionists:

They assist their clients in understanding how the food they eat affects their bodies.

  • Health Educators:

They educate about healthy habits and assist in the development of methods to improve the health and well-being of individuals as well as communities.

7.3 Rehabilitation Specialists:

Rehabilitative specialists work with patients to help them recover and properly function in their bodies, brains, and emotional well-being. Patients hire the assistance of these specialists following a severe injury or a mental or physical disease. Patients are usually scheduled for a series of sessions with a rehabilitation specialist to assist them to restore their abilities. A rehabilitative allied health practitioner may have the following jobs:

  • Physiotherapists:

A physiotherapist tries to figure out the origin of an injury and develops an exercise-based treatment and preventive strategy.

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Photo by: Yan Krukau / Pexel copyrights November 5th, 2020
  • Psychologists:

Psychologist assists their patients in learning coping methods for stress, anxiety, and mental health conditions.

  • Occupational Therapists:

A patient who has lost their ability to do everyday activities due to some accident then an occupational therapist assists the patient in regaining the capacity to conduct daily tasks.

  • Art Therapists:

Art therapist helps their patients work through their emotions by making art.

  • Prosthetists:

A prosthetist creates and fits artificial supporting devices, such as prosthetic arms and legs or braces, on patients.

7.4 Diagnostic Professionals:

Other allied health professionals are Diagnostic professionals who perform the tasks like utilizing diagnostic equipment such as X-ray machines and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices to assist in the diagnosis of patients suffering from interior disease or injuries. They are frequently technicians who train on specialized machinery. They work at hospitals or clinics that specialize in diagnostic testing. Following are some examples of diagnostic professionals’ jobs:

  • Medical Sonographer:

A medical sonographer examines the inside of bodies using technology and sound waves to generate pictures that aid in the diagnosis of internal ailments and injuries.

  • Radiology Technician:

A radiology technician works to set a patient correctly to get a quality diagnostic image while using an X-ray machine.

  • Cardiovascular Technician:

Someone who works with machines that detect and treat heart problems, such as electrocardiograms and pacemakers.

  • Ultrasound Technician:

An ultrasound technician examines the abdomen, reproductive organs, and heart using specialized equipment.

  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist:

They prepare radioactive medication for patients to take for imaging technologies to gain a clearer image of probable illnesses or damage within their bodies. They also assist in the administration of chemotherapy to cancer patients.

7.5 Administrative Professionals:

Administrative professionals work in a variety of healthcare settings. They manage offices, answer phone calls, and manage files & papers. They also manage the financial parts of health care by handling invoicing and dealing with insurance companies. Following are some examples of administrative allied healthcare jobs:

  • Medical Transcriptionist:

Someone who translates audio recordings made by physicians or other health care providers into written texts for future use.

  • Medical Biller:

They calculate bills and collect money for medical operations, as well as update patient information and create invoices. 

  • Front Desk Receptionist:

They help in managing the administration, collecting contact information from patients, and arranging appointments.

  • Administrative Medical Staff Secretary:

A medical secretary assists the staff with administrative tasks such as filing and answering phone calls.

8. Conclusion

This post may have provided you with an insight into what allied health is. A wide range of allied health careers is available as potential career options. It is now entirely up to you to decide which of these allied health careers you are interested in, but conducting a little study before making any decisions may assist you to obtain a clear picture of everything.

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