As healthcare continues to grow as an industry, the demand for qualified individuals to fill a variety of allied health positions has also increased. Registered nurses and healthcare professionals alike are finding that careers in allied health offer a unique and fulfilling experience amidst a rapidly changing industry.
Below we will share the driving trends behind the rising demand for allied health professionals, discuss the vast career growth opportunities available, and uncover the wide range of innovative roles awaiting allied healthcare professionals.
Allied Health Careers
First, let’s define Allied Health. Allied Healthcare professionals are individuals who provide a range of diagnostic, therapeutic, and support services to patients and family members in a healthcare setting. Passage referenced from Nursing License Map. They work alongside physicians and other healthcare providers to improve the quality and effectiveness of care provided. A few examples of allied health professions include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, medical laboratory technologists, dietitians, and surgical technologists, among others.
The demand for allied healthcare professionals has grown significantly in recent years due to a variety of healthcare industry trends which we will explore next.
Healthcare Industry Trends
The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving to keep up with an aging population and increasing patient demands. These changes in healthcare have driven the demand for allied health professionals in a few key ways.
The Affordable Care Act Further details on the Affordable Care Act by Healthcare.gov has expanded access to healthcare for millions of Americans, driving an increased demand for a range of healthcare services. This has created a need for additional healthcare providers across a range of specialties, including allied health professionals Passage referenced from the National Library of Medicine. They work alongside physicians and other healthcare providers to improve the quality and effectiveness of care provided. A few examples of allied health professions include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, medical laboratory technologists, dietitians, and surgical technologists, among others.
The aging Baby Boomer population is also responsible for the demand for specialized health services, including therapies for age-related conditions . Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the essential role of allied health professionals in supporting frontline healthcare workers. These factors combined have created a heightened demand for allied health professionals in various healthcare specialties
Career Growth In Allied Health
One of the most exciting aspects of a career in allied health is the range of career growth opportunities available to professionals in this field. Many allied healthcare roles require that workers have specific certifications or degrees, which can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. This provides a unique opportunity for professionals to change career paths or upskill in a short amount of time, with many programs offering online, flexible, or part-time options to complete training.
Beyond this, allied healthcare professionals can take advantage of a wide range of opportunities for job growth and advancement. Many professionals start in entry-level positions and move up to leadership roles as they gain experience and develop skills. In addition, as the healthcare industry grows and evolves, new roles with unique skillsets are being developed, providing even more opportunities for career growth and development.
Innovative Allied Health Roles
Let’s explore some of the innovative and unique allied health roles available to healthcare professionals today.
Unlike traditional healthcare providers, telehealth specialists provide care remotely, leveraging technology such as video conferencing and telemedicine platforms to care for patients. Telehealth specialists can include primary care providers, nurses, and other healthcare providers who work entirely remotely.
Healthcare Data Analysts
Healthcare data analysts gather, interpret, and report on health data to improve patient outcomes and healthcare system efficiency Passage referenced from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. This role is critical in today’s healthcare industry, where accurate and real-time data can drive critical decisions for providers and healthcare organizations.
Genetic counselors help patients understand the risks of genetic disorders and make informed decisions about their healthcare. These professionals work in a range of specialties, including prenatal care and oncology.
Health informaticians work to design and implement health information systems that provide better decision-making, data analytics, and patient care Passage referenced from the National Library of Medicine. They can work in a range of settings, from hospitals to government agencies to research institutions
These are just a few examples of the variety of careers available in allied health. For those interested in health and science, pursuing a career in allied health can provide a lifelong opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
Meeting The Demand For Allied Healthcare
To conclude, the demand for qualified allied healthcare professionals has never been higher, driven by a range of healthcare industry trends. Registered nurses and other healthcare professionals looking to move into a new career path or grow their skills can take advantage of the range of opportunities available in the field.
From innovative roles such as telehealth specialists and health informaticians to more traditional roles such as respiratory therapists and medical laboratory technologists, allied health careers provide a diverse, fulfilling, and growing set of opportunities. With many career paths requiring relatively short certifications or degrees, allied health is an excellent opportunity for healthcare professionals to upskill and succeed in a rapidly changing industry.
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- Allied Health. (2022, May 5). CORP-MSN0 (NLM).
- Haleem, A. et al. (2021). Telemedicine for healthcare: Capabilities, features, barriers, and applications. Sensors International, 2(100117).
- Hilliard, A. (2019, May 16). The baby boomer effect and controlling healthcare costs. USC EMHA Online.
- Gugenheim, M. (2021, January 13). The role of data Analytics in health care. School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
- Yogesh, M.J. & Karthikeyan, J. (2022). Health Informatics: Engaging modern Healthcare Units: A brief overview. Frontiers in Public Health, 10.