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Allied health is a central component of America’s $94.17 billion healthcare services industry. Still, many people, including some who’re interested in pursuing a medical career, are unfamiliar with many aspects of this special sector of the medical field.
Here’s everything you need to know about allied health, from what it is and what services it provides to which medical professions and related careers are considered allied health practitioners.
Understanding the Term
Allied health is a term used to describe healthcare professionals who are not physicians. These professionals work in support of medical doctors to provide quality patient care. They provide services that are essential to the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Without them, the healthcare system would not be able to function properly.
As of 2022, the allied health sector boasts over 5 million allied care professionals working in a variety of settings all across the country.
Some Common Allied Health Professions
If a career in allied health interests you, you’ll be glad to know there are many different professions to choose from. Here are some of the most common allied health professions:
Medical technology encompasses a wide range of occupations, from medical assistants and medical billing and coding specialists to pharmacy technicians and medical laboratory technologists. Medical technologists use sophisticated equipment to perform tests that help diagnose and treat diseases. They work in hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, where they often specialize in areas such as immunology, microbiology, hematology, or blood banking.
Physical therapists (PTs) help patients regain movement and function after an injury or illness. They develop treatment plans that may involve exercises, stretching, massages, and the use of electrical stimulation or other modalities.
In recent years, the demand for physical therapy has skyrocketed as the population continues to age and more people seek treatment for chronic conditions, including joint and muscle pain. In America alone, physical therapy sessions surpass 300 million each year.
Occupational therapists (OTs) help patients regain the ability to perform everyday activities. They work with patients who have conditions that limit their abilities, such as arthritis, cerebral palsy, and stroke.
OTs often use adaptive equipment to help patients perform tasks such as dressing and cooking. They also teach patients new ways to do everyday activities.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) assesses and treats patients with communication disorders. These disorders can range from articulation problems and stuttering to more serious conditions such as expressive and receptive language disorders.
SLPs also work with patients who have difficulty swallowing. They often use a variety of techniques, such as exercises and special tests, to help patients improve their speech and language skills.
Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition and dietetics have grown to become some of the most popular health careers across the world. Registered dietitians (RDs) provide medical nutrition therapy to patients. They develop nutrition plans that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs. These professionals can help people with diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders, in addition to those who are trying to lose weight.
Respiratory therapists (RTs) provide medical care to patients with respiratory disorders. These disorders can range from asthma and bronchitis to more serious conditions such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
RTs often use medical devices, such as ventilators, to help patients breathe. They also provide education to patients and their families about how to manage their condition. Besides providing their services in medical institutions, RTs may also work in corporate wellness programs, government agencies, or research institutions.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Diagnostic medical sonographers (DMSs) use special equipment to create images of the body’s organs and tissues. These images are used to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. DMSs often specialize in a particular area, such as obstetric and gynecologic sonography or cardiac sonography. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, and medical laboratories.
Music and Play Therapy
You’ve probably heard of using music to relax or soothe someone who is upset. Music therapists use music to achieve a variety of goals with their patients. These goals can include reducing stress, improving communication skills, or managing pain. Music therapists often work in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Play therapy is similar to music therapy, but it uses playful activities instead of music. These activities can include games, puppets, and toys. Play therapists often work with children who have developmental delays, autism spectrum disorder, or other conditions.
Audiologists are health professionals who diagnose and treat patients with hearing loss. They often use medical devices, such as hearing aids, to help patients improve their hearing. Audiologists also provide education to patients and their families about how to manage their condition. In addition to working in hospitals and clinics, audiologists may also work in schools or research institutions.
Start Your Journey to a Career in Allied Health
A career in allied health can be very rewarding. These professionals play a vital role in the medical field, and they help patients improve their quality of life. If you’re interested in a career in allied health, there are many different options to choose from. No matter what your interests or skills are, there’s sure to be a perfect fit for you.
Start hiring the right way
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