Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Allied health is a blanket term which is used to refer to a wide variety of health professions, with the exclusion of doctors and nurses. Allied health professionals are an important part of the medical teams which deliver care to patients, varying from the people who work in ambulances providing medical transport to the perfusionists who monitor the heart-lung machines used during pulmonary bypass. Employment in this field exploded in the mid-20th century, as the field of medicine grew increasingly more complex, and a number of health professions arose to help provide care to patients.
The level of education and certification requirements for members of the allied health professions vary. In some cases, they may hold master's or doctorate degrees in their field, which have qualified them to pass certification exams which allow them to practice. In other instances, they may have minimal training, and lack certification. Some allied health professions are still new enough that no governing bodies have been established to clearly define them and to start to establish certification requirements.
Some examples of allied health professionals include: physical therapists, dental technicians, psychologists, midwives, medical technicians, physician's assistants, laboratory technicians, medical technologists, medical transporters, paramedics, laboratory technologists, public health advocates, occupational therapists, and audiologists, among many others. Members of each profession provide unique services which are designed to support patients as they recover from trauma, learn to manage chronic conditions, or struggle with the emergence of acute conditions.
Members of the allied health community can work in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, and their own private practices. Because the practice of medicine has become so complex, many patients interact with at least one allied health professional whenever they have an interaction with the health care system. For example, a patient who needs blood work will probably see a phlebotomist for a blood draw, and the blood sample will be analyzed by a laboratory technologist. Likewise, someone brought into a hospital with a broken leg might interact with paramedics, radiology technicians, and physical therapists.
@Azuza - Good points. I actually have two friends that are starting in the same radiology program this fall and now I'm a little worried about their future prospects! I'm going to ask them if their program offers job placement and make sure they start thinking about how they're going to find a job when they graduate.
I've heard that it's really easy to get a job in the allied health field. Apparently the field is growing fast and there's a huge demand for trained professionals. That hasn't been my personal experience though.
I have a good friend who went to school to be a medical assistant and she still hasn't found a job. She did an internship during her program and graduated from her program about a year ago with her certification and still no luck. Every job she stumbles across requires experience and she can't get any experience until someone hires her!
My advice for anyone looking to get an allied health job is to look at the want ads in your area
before you sign up for a program. That way you can see if your certification is really going to help you get a job. Also, try to find a program that offers job placement. The program my friend went to didn't offer this and I feel like they really should.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!