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Allied health careers are healthcare occupations that do not fit into the typical physician or nursing professions. Allied health professionals work within a medical team to provide direct or indirect patient care. These highly skilled health professionals can work in almost every sub-division of healthcare.
Most allied health careers can be classified into two general categories: assistants or technicians, and therapists or technologists. In general, an assistant or technician assists therapists, technologists, physicians, or nurses and require some form of supervision to carry out tasks. Therapists or technologists, on the other hand, work independently and often perform evaluations and develop treatment plans. In some instances, the therapist or technologist can even diagnose patients.
Allied health careers can be found in almost every aspect of healthcare. From veterinary studies and alternative medicine to traditional venues such as physical therapy and radiology, allied health professionals help provide a well-rounded team to diagnose and treat patients. But there are several allied health careers in high demand these days. Among them include medical assistants which assist the nursing staff in hospitals, doctor’s offices and facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living. Medical assistants, or MA’s, can perform direct patient skills or inter-office duties like record keeping, insurance forms and appointment setting.
Another fast-growing path in allied health careers is that of cardiovascular technicians and technologists. These skilled allied health professionals assist the physician in diagnosing and treating patients with cardiovascular or heart problems, or with peripheral vascular or blood vessel problems. Some cardiovascular technicians are trained in invasive procedures or monitoring during surgical procedures.
The diagnostic medical sonographer or ultrasound technician is another fast-growing profession in allied health careers. These trained technicians used specialized equipment to take diagnostic images of internal organs for the purpose of diagnosing and treating various illnesses and diseases. Ultrasound technicians can also work with expecting mothers.
Physician assistants, or PA’s, are allied professionals trained to ease the high demand on physicians. They are highly trained to provide preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic health care services under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. PA’s are also a valuable addition to surgical teams along with another allied healthcare profession – surgical technologists.
Other allied health careers that have been experiencing a major boom are athletic trainers, who help treat and prevent injuries of athletes both amateur and professional, and dieticians or nutritionists, who help prevent and treat a variety of illnesses and disease processes by healthy eating. Respiratory therapists aid in respiratory care.
If not interested in direct patient care, allied health careers such as clinical lab technologists or lab scientists perform lab tests for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and illnesses, and medical and health services managers are an option. These allied health professionals deal mostly with paperwork issues. The can also direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of the healthcare program in compliance with the physician’s recommendations.
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