The demand for Allied Health professionals has never been greater. These medical professionals are part of the team that provides patients with a means to carry out a thorough care plan. The need to build this medical support group in clinics, hospitals and nursing care facilities creates ample opportunities for those who work as physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, speech pathologists and the like to pick and choose the location and setting in which they want to work.
It’s widely recognized that the healthcare industry is growing by leaps and bounds. As the large “baby boomer” generation ages the demand for quality healthcare rises. The area which has seen the biggest growth? Allied Health professionals.
What Exactly Is Allied Health?
Allied Health refers to a broad group of medical professionals who, along with physicians and nurses, use science and evidence-based practices to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate patients, evaluate chronic conditions as well as acute conditions, and work to promote disease prevention and wellness for the optimum health of the community.
Depending on their area of specialty Allied Health professionals can apply their skills in many different settings of the healthcare industry. Some are involved in hands-on patient care and rehabilitation, some work in diagnostics to assist care providers behind the scenes, and a good many are in management and administration.
How Allied Health Professionals Contribute to Healthcare
Allied health professionals contribute significantly in today’s healthcare arena. These specialized technicians and therapists, assistants, hygienists, and trainers can work directly and collaboratively with physicians and dentists, nurses and pharmacists to provide a thorough care plan for the patient. This type of patient centered care is individualized as opposed to some of the cookie-cutter care plans of years ago.
Many of these specialists help those in rehabilitation for neurological injuries or illnesses and empower their patients to live independently by assisting with daily functions. Through exercise, speech, dietary (nutrition) and health education, these Allied Health professionals are enabling many individuals to live fuller lives.
Finally those in Allied Health are integral in preventative medicine. By educating those in their community on such things as hygiene, nutrition, and safety they a proactive in keeping the most vulnerable members of our communities from getting sick.
7 Allied Health Positions in High Demand
These Allied Health professions are the highest growing positions in the field. Not all Allied Health positions are equal. Some specialties will require much more education than others, and the median salaries will reflect that. Here are 7 of the top Allied Health professional positions that will see a rise in demand over the next few years.
Though Physical Therapy has always been in demand, the need for PT’s is growing especially as baby boomers age out. Physical Therapists work with those individuals who are debilitated due to a medical condition, have suffered an accident or injury, or are recovering from a procedure. As a Physical Therapist you can opt to work full- or part-time, in a clinical setting, hospital or nursing home.
When someone suffers a hearing loss the loss must be assessed. In order to provide the correct type of device, such as a hearing aid, the individual needs to be fitted and provided with the correct apparatus for his particular needs. An Audiologist will also work to balance the hearing and assess any possible medical conditions that are causing ear ailments.
Medical Lab Tech
Medical Lab Techs must have the knowledge it takes to utilize the lab equipment necessary to complete tests and procedures ordered by doctors and other healthcare professionals. As a Medical Lab Tech you will need to be able to monitor equipment, evaluate body fluids, understand specific results, and report to the physician in a timely manner.
In recent times more and more of a connection is being drawn between what we eat and our health. Dietitians are instrumental in helping patients and the community at large understand the role better nutrition plays in a healthy life.
The need for qualified medical assistants is high and will continue to grow. For those individuals who enjoy working in a medical setting but cannot commit to the years it takes to pursue a medical degree, a position as a medical assistant is the right call. Should you decide to go further in your career at some point you will be able to pursue a degree with experience and know-how on your side.
Athletic Trainers work with professional athletes, amateur athletes, school kids and even industrial employees (due to the nature of their job). Trainers must be quickly able to assess and treat everything from a minor injury to assisting the patient in getting further assessment in a hospital setting. You’ll have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings and you can choose just where you want to be.
Dental Hygienists are becoming more and more an integral part of the dental field. Requirements do vary by state so be aware should you decide to practice elsewhere. Dental Hygienists are able to work part-time or full-time, so there is a bit of freedom in this career.
The Allied Health field is obviously in need of qualified individuals to fill gaps. If you’re considering a career in healthcare, consider working as one of the above mentioned Allied Health professionals. You’ll surely be in demand.