What is allied health?
Allied health professionals are employees that work in the healthcare field but aren't physicians, nurses or dentists. They make up the
rest of healthcare staffs that perform important duties like health administration, technical support, diagnostics and rehabilitation. The term
allied health includes most people who provide healthcare. These professionals have a wide range of education and training and their qualifications
depend on the duties of their specific job.
Allied healthcare workers work directly with patients or away from patients in labs or in administrative offices. Allied health professionals
who work with patients often work with physicians, though they may also work with patients individually as specialists. For example, nutritionists
are allied health professionals.
1. Primary care provider
A primary care provider is someone who works at a clinic or institution that is often the first point of contact for patients and healthcare
workers. This may be in an urgent care clinic, pharmacy or a community health center. Primary care providers often work alongside physicians and
work to diagnose and treat illness in patients. Here is a list of allied health professionals who work in primary care:
Dental hygienist: A dental hygienist performs dental cleanings and preventative dental care.
Nutrition supervisor: A nutrition supervisor is a nutritionist who oversees the nutritional decisions at an institution.
Pharmacist: A pharmacist dispenses medicine and sometimes recommends over-the-counter remedies for customers.
Community health worker: A community health worker helps patients access healthcare when their location or situation makes it difficult for them to receive.
Healthcare technician: A healthcare technician assists doctors and nurses with medical tasks and makes patients comfortable in clinics or hospital settings.
Certified nursing assistant: A certified nursing assistant helps patients under the supervision of a certified nurse.
2. Diagnostic professionals
Diagnostic professionals are allied health professionals who use diagnostic machinery, like X-ray machines and MRI machines, to help diagnose
patients with internal diseases or injuries. They are often technicians who have to train with specific machinery. They may work in hospitals or in
offices that specialize in running diagnostic tests. Here are some jobs that diagnostic professionals may have:
Radiology technician: A radiology technician puts patients in the correct position to create a clear diagnostic image using an x-ray machine.
Ultrasound technician: An ultrasound technician uses equipment to examine the abdomen, reproductive organs and heart.
Medical sonographer: A medical sonographer uses equipment and sound waves to examine the interiors of bodies to provide images that help diagnose internal illnesses and injuries.
Nuclear medicine technologist: A nuclear medicine technologist prepares radioactive medicine that patients take to help imaging technology get a better view of potential illnesses or injuries inside their bodies. They also help administer chemotherapy to cancer patients.
Cardiovascular technician: A cardiovascular technician operates machinery involved with detecting and treating heart disease, like EKGs and pacemakers.
3. Rehabilitative workers
Rehabilitative workers help patients restore function to their bodies, minds and emotional wellbeing. Patients come to these professionals after
having suffered a traumatic injury or a mental or physical illness. Patients typically have a series of appointments with a rehabilitative worker to
help them regain their abilities. Here are some jobs that a rehabilitative allied health professional may have:
Occupational therapists: An occupational therapist helps patients regain the ability to perform everyday activities after an injury.
Prosthetists: A prosthetist makes synthetic supportive devices, like prosthetic arms and legs or braces, and fits them to patients.
Physiotherapists: A physiotherapist works to determine the cause of an injury and creates a treatment and prevention plan that involves exercise.
Speech pathologists: A speech pathologist helps adults and children with communication or swallowing disorders.
Psychologists: A psychologist helps their patient learn coping mechanisms to deal with stress and anxiety or mental health disorders.
Art therapists: An art therapist uses creating art to help their patients work through their emotions.
4. Health promotion
Allied healthcare professionals provide education about how to have a healthy lifestyle. They work in community centers and nonprofits to help
spread education about health to underserved populations. They also work for the government, informing citizens about health and helping establish
policy surrounding health. Businesses may hire health promotion professionals to come into their offices and give presentations about health
conditions and practices. Here are some jobs a health promotion allied healthcare professional may have:
Environmental health specialist: An environmental health specialist educates clients and enforces regulations about sanitation, food and health hazards.
Health educator: A health educator teaches people about behaviors that promote health and help to build strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities.
Dietitian or nutritionist: A dietitian or a nutritionist helps their clients understand how the food they eat affects their bodies.
Health coordinators: A health coordinator, also known as a health service manager, oversees the organizational or operational aspects of patient care within healthcare settings, like establishing relationships with vendors.
5. Administrative workers
Administrative workers work in various healthcare facilities. They file paperwork, manage offices and
answer phones. They also deal with the financial side of things by handling billing and conducting business with insurance agencies. Here are some
jobs that an administrative allied healthcare professional may have:
Administrative medical staff secretary: A medical secretary provides administrative support to the staff, such as filing or answering phones.
Front desk receptionist: A front desk receptionist handles administrative support, takes contact information for patients and schedules appointments.
Medical transcriptionist: A medical transcriptionist takes audio recordings that physicians or other healthcare professionals make and turns them into typed transcripts for reference.
Medical biller: A medical biller calculates bills and collects payments for medical procedures, updates patient records and creates invoices. They can also work with patients to create payment plans.
Professional coder: A medical coder turns patient information into a medical code that insurance agencies use to track clients and payments.
What healthcare roles aren't allied health professionals?
Allied healthcare professionals make up most of the healthcare field so to understand which professionals qualify as allied health, it may be
easier to show who does not. Here is a list of prominent healthcare professionals that aren't members of allied health:
- General Practitioners
- Internal Medicine Physician