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  • Healthcare Career Feature

Definition of Allied Health


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The term ''Allied Health'' is used to categorize a cluster of health care professions and more importantly covers near about 200 occupational titles, exclusive of physicians, nurses, and many others.

Allied Health professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management, among others. Allied health professionals, to name a few, include dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologist.

The allied health professions generally fall into two extensive categories, mainly - technicians (assistants) and therapists/technologists. Technicians are generally trained to perform procedures, their education lasts less than two years and are required to work under the direction of technologists or therapists. This part of the allied health field basically includes medical laboratory technicians, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants and respiratory therapy technicians. Apart from this, the educational process for therapists/technologists is more concentrated and includes acquiring procedural skills. Their responsibilities generally include evaluating patients, diagnosing conditions and recognize the rationale behind various treatments in order to judge their appropriateness and potential side effects.

Allied health professionals are health care practitioners with formal education and clinical training who are credentialed through certification, registration and/or licensure. They collaborate with physicians and other members of the healthcare team to deliver high quality patient care services for the identification, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disabilities and disorders.

Allied Health Professionals…
1. Decrease cost and improves quality of patient care
2. Comprise the majority of the health care work force
3. Include more than 85 distinct occupations, exclusive of physicians and nurses
4. Include over 6 million providers of the 11 million health care workforces
5. Typically attend 2 or 4 year educational programs in community and senior colleges
6. Are educated in over 1,000 programs in the US, which are staffed by 3,000 allied health faculty, and enroll over 30,000 students annually.
7. Are experiencing a workforce shortage greater than that currently seen in nursing.

Allied health professionals are expert in a multitude of therapeutic, diagnostic, and preventive health interventions and function in several diverse settings including disease prevention and control, dietary and nutritional services, mental and physical health promotion, rehabilitation, and health systems management.

Health Professions Network
The Health Professions Network (HPN) is a voluntary, national group representing over 75 organizations of allied health care providers, educators and accreditors interested in interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. HPN focuses on communication, consensus and advocacy on behalf of allied health professionals.

Professional member groups participating in Health Professions Network include
  • Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals
  • National Network of Health Career Programs in Two-Year Colleges
  • Over 50 professional organizations of allied health providers
Supporters and speakers of the Health Professions Network include
  • Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human.


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