What Does “Allied Health” Refer To?
The term "allied health" is used to describe the multitude of healthcare workers that do not include physicians, nurses, dentists, or pharmacists. In fact, allied health professionals actually make up the majority of all healthcare workers. They perform both direct and indirect patient care and can also be highly specialized. Allied healthcare workers include:
- Medical assistants
- Nursing assistants
- Dental hygienists
- Radiology technicians
- ER technicians
- Pharmacy technicians
- Medical billers
- Any many more!
Allied healthcare workers can work in various environments. Examples include hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, and dental offices. They are vital to the healthcare industry because patient care is so multi-faceted - one patient may need care from multiple disciplines. For example, a patient admitted for a stroke may need physical therapy, medication regimens/adjustments, dietary services, spiritual services, and assistance with ADLs. Therefore, the physician will need to involve allied health professionals such as physical therapists, pharmacy technicians, dieticians, social workers, and nurse assistants.
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There are several reasons for choosing an allied health profession. First, many of these programs are shorter in length than non-allied health programs. Additionally, there is a wide variety of specialties to choose from. No matter what interests a potential allied healthcare student may have, there is a career opportunity available for them to strive for. For more information on allied health, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has a great resource on the history of allied health, and how allied health professionals help meet the growing healthcare needs in the U.S.
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