Allied health is a division of the medical field where the health professions are different from nursing and medical roles. These distinctions include any occupation relying on evidence-based practices and scientific principles to inform careers and decisions that address disease control and prevention, wellness practices, and evaluation or treatment of chronic illnesses or disease. Anyone working in one of the roles can assume the title of allied health professional.
The Nature of the Workforce
There are approximately 80 different professions within the allied health workforce, with about 20 million providers filling the various roles. A large number of these positions work in tandem with traditional healthcare professions. Whether working collaboratively with physicians or operating independently to assist patients with health education, speech, nutrition, or other health and wellness needs, these individuals are subject to the same liabilities, ethics, regulations, and governing principles of others in the healthcare industry.
The Growth of the Field
There is no shortage of positions or demands for the allied health field. Because of the broad categories of opportunity, there is a growing need for allied health professionals in the following areas (though these are not comprehensive of the need):
- Dental hygiene
- Occupational therapy
- Respiratory therapy
- Emergency medical service
These careers do require formal education, and at times, work can only be done under the supervision of more trained healthcare providers. However, for those looking for a rewarding line of work with job security, allied health should be a strong contender.