What is Allied Health?
Allied Health Professions is an umbrella phrase referring to numerous health care professions, most of which make up the support staff for the doctors. The definition of allied health professions is a matter of some debate. At its most basic, the phrase refers to any health care career other than nursing or medicine (doctors) that requires some form of postsecondary education.
Even though the individual professions under allied health can be very different, there are many characteristics that the allied health professions share in common, including:
- The requirement for a high school diploma or equivalent
- The requirement for specialized training beyond high school
- The frequent requirement to pass examinations, and/or obtain certification
- The frequent requirement to obtain state licensing
The allied health professions make up a very large portion of the health care system in the U.S. According to the Health Professions Network (HPN), there are over 85 distinct occupations in allied health (excluding doctors and nurses). Over 6 million individuals work in these allied health careers.
Listing of Allied Health Professions
Following is a listing of many of the recognized allied health professions:
|Anesthesiologist assistant||Counseling professions - School counselor||Medical Librarians|
|Art therapist||Counseling professions - Student affairs practitioner||Medical Transcriptionist|
|Athletic trainer||Cytotechnologist||Music therapist|
|Audiologist||Dance therapist||Music Therapy|
|Blindness and visual impairment - Low vision therapist||Dental assistant||Nerve Conduction Studies Technologist|
|Blindness and visual impairment - Orientation and mobility specialist||Dental hygienist||Nuclear medicine technologist|
|Blindness and visual impairment - Rehabilitation teacher||Dental laboratory technician||Nurse Aide Instructors|
|Blood bank technology - specialist||Diagnostic medical sonographer||Occupational therapy - Occupational therapist|
|Cardiovascular technologist||Dietetics - Dietetic technician, registered||Occupational therapy - Occupational therapy assistant|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Clinical assistant||Dietetics - Registered dietitian / nutritionist||Ophthalmic assistant|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Clinical laboratory scientist / medical technologist||Electroneurodiagnostic technologist||Ophthalmic dispensing optician|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Clinical laboratory technician / medical laboratory technician||Emergency medical technician - paramedic||Ophthalmic medical technician / technologist|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Cytogenetic technologist||Exercise Science||Orthoptist|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Diagnostic molecular scientist||Genetic counselor||Orthotist and prosthetist|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Histologic technician / histotechnologist||Health Education||Poetry Therapy|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - PathologistsҠassistant||Health information administrator||Polysomnographic Technology|
|Clinical laboratory science / medical technology - Phlebotomist||Health information technician||Radiologic technology - Magnetic resonance technologist|
|Counseling professions - Career counselor||Histotechnology||Radiologic technology - Medical Dosimetrist|
|Counseling professions - College counselor||Interventional Radiology||Radiologic technology - Radiographer|
|Counseling professions - Community counselors||Kinesiotherapist||Radiologic technology - Radiologist Assistant|
|Counseling professions - Counselor educator||Magnetic Resonance Technology||Radiologic technology - Radiology Administrators|
|Counseling professions - Gerontological counselor||Massage therapist||Recreational Therapy|
|Counseling professions - Marital, couple and family counselor||Medical assistant||Surgical Neurophysiology|
|Counseling professions - Mental health counselor||Medical librarian||Veterinary Medical Technology Program|
Sources: The American Medical Association and The Health Professions Network
Educational Requirements for Allied Health Professions
The educational requirements vary significantly from profession to profession within allied health. As has already been stated, all require at least high school diploma or GED equivalent. All also require specialized study beyond high school. A common credential in allied health is an associate degree, and beyond that many workers get additional certifications or licenses related to their specialized field. Many jobs may also require bachelor and/or advanced degrees. Education in allied health disciplines typically includes both classroom and clinical study.
Career, vocational and technical education schools typically provide allied health education programs for professions that require less than a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Occupational Outlook Handbook", career schools (vocational and technical education schools) play a substantial role providing education for allied health professions that require an associate degree or less. Most of these programs provided by career schools last from 12 to 24 months and provide certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees.
It is very important when evaluating the educational institution and program of study to assess the accreditation status of both the institution and the program of study.
Licensing and Certification Requirements for Allied Health
Because there are so many allied health professions, the licensing and certification requirements vary significantly from profession to profession. There are, however, some similarities from one allied health career to another. These include
- Most require that an individual pass a proficiency examination for the chosen career
- Many require certification in that career
- Many require state licensing
It is important for an individual to understand these requirements when they are evaluating a specific allied health career.
Allied Health Resources
- The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP)
- Bureau of Health Professions, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Career Choices Pulse,a joint project of the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Healthcare and Human Resources Association
- Exploring Allied Health Professions, Health Professions Network
- National Network of Health Career Programs in Two-Year Colleges (NN2)
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics
- "Who is under the allied health umbrella?" Anne Federwisch, Nurseweek, http://www.nurseweek.com/features/98-10/identity.html
- The Health Professions Network (HPN), http://www.healthpronet.org/