About Allied Health Care

History

The development of allied health care in the United States began in earnest in the 1930s and early 1940s when education accreditation guidelines were established for clinical pathologists, health information administrators, occupational therapists and radiographers.

Scientific breakthroughs following World War II gave birth to more sophisticated diagnostic tests and treatment techniques. Rising costs also prompted a trend in which an increasing numbers of patients received care in non-hospital settings such as physicians' offices or clinics. Both of these factors created a demand for allied health care professionals.

In 1952 a presidential commission on national health needs sounded the first call for more allied health professionals. Since then allied health care has grown exponentially in terms of both its disciplines and overall workforce.

Function

Allied health care professionals team with nurses, physicians and other medical personnel to provide services related to the identification, prevention and treatment of diseases and disabilities.

Significance

An estimated 60 percent of the U.S. health-care workforce consists of allied health care professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, several of the fastest growing occupations are found in the field of allied health care. These occupations include home health aides, medical assistants and physical therapy aides and assistants.

Types

The allied health care field is exceptionally broad. In addition to previously mentioned occupations, it includes everything from art and recreational therapists to cardiovascular, cytopathology and nuclear medicine technologists, as well as opticians.

Potential

Shortages are being reported in almost every allied health care occupation, making this an ideal field for prospective professionals to consider. There are educational opportunities at institutions throughout the nation for students who are interested in pursuing a career in allied health care. The field of allied health care essentially involves millions of health and medical professionals who are not doctors or nurses. Dozens of different occupations ranging from dental hygienists and dietitians to radiological technologists and respiratory therapists fall under the umbrella of allied health care. Most allied health care professionals must obtain both formal schooling and clinical training to qualify for required credentials such as a certificate or license. There is a pressing need for allied health care professionals in many areas.