Allied health professions
Allied health professions are health care professions distinct from nursing, medicine, and pharmacy. One source reported allied health professionals making up 60 percent of the total health workforce. They work in health care teams to make the health care system function by providing a range of diagnostic, technical, therapeutic and direct patient care and support services that are critical to the other health professionals they work with and the patients they serve.
- 1 Professions
- 2 Recognized allied health professions
- 3 Training and education
- 4 History
- 5 Allied health employment projections
- 6 Roles not recognised as belonging to the allied health professions
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In September 2012 the organisation of International Chief Health Professions Officers (ICHPO) provided an agreed definition of an Allied Health Professionals.
“Allied Health Professions are a distinct group of health professionals who apply their expertise to prevent disease transmission, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people of all ages and all specialities. Together with a range of technical and support staff they may deliver direct patient care, rehabilitation, treatment, diagnostics and health improvement interventions to restore and maintain optimal physical, sensory, psychological, cognitive and social functions."
The International CHPO group is a network of Chief Officers with a professional and policy leadership role for Allied Health Professions and supports knowledge exchange and partnership working across the international community ICHPO member countries:- Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, Hong Kong (SAR), Malaysia, Malta, Namibia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Southern Ireland, Wales.
Depending on the country and local health care system, a limited subset of the following professions (professional areas) may be represented, and may be regulated:
- Anesthesia technician
- Athletic Trainer
- Cardiographic technician
- Cardiovascular technologist
- Clinical laboratory scientist
- Clinical officer
- Clinical psychologist
- Dental hygienist
- Diagnostic medical sonographist
- Environmental health officer
- Dietitian / Nutritionist
- Electrocardiogram technician
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Environmental Health Technician
- Exercise physiologist
- Public Health Epidemiologist
- Lactation Consultant
- Medical assistant
- Medical Interpreter
- Medical dosimetrist
- Medical laboratory scientist
- Medical radiation scientist
- Music therapist
- Nuclear medicine technologist
- Occupational therapist
- Orthotist / Prosthetist
- Physical Therapist
- Radiotherapist/Radiation therapist
- Diagnostic Radiographer
- Rehabilitation Counseling
- Respiratory therapist
- Social Workers
- Speech - Language Pathologist
- Surgical technologist
- Renal Dialysis Technologist
The precise titles, roles and requisites of allied health professionals may vary considerably from country to country.
Recognized allied health professions
Allied health professions in Australia
In Australia, Allied Health typically includes all health professions other than medicine and nursing and dentistry that require a tertiary degree to practice, and who form part of the public health system. Queensland Health employs more than 5000 allied health professionals across the following disciplines:
- Behavioral health (counseling, marriage and family therapy)
- Clinical measurement science
- Exercise physiology
- Nuclear medicine technology
- Medical Laboratory Scientist
- Occupational therapy
- Orthotics and prosthetics
- Radiation therapy
- Radiography / Medical imaging
- Respiratory therapy
- Speech pathology
Allied health professions in the UK
- Diagnostic radiography
- Drama therapy
- Clinical psychology
- Counseling psychology
- Educational psychologist
- Forensic psychology
- Health psychology
- Public Health Epidemiologist
- Occupational psychology
- Sport psychology
- Occupational therapy
- Operating department practitioner
- Speech and language therapy
- Social worker
- Therapeutic radiography
Health professions in South Africa
In South Africa, different professions are regulated by different boards. The Health Professions Council of South Africa regulates 26 different professional titles in medicine and dentistry plus the following areas:
- Dental therapy & oral hygiene
- Emergency care
- Environmental health
- Medical technology
- Occupational therapy, medical orthotics / prosthetics & creative arts therapy
- Optometry & dispensing opticians
- Physiotherapy, podiatry & biokinetics
- Radiography & clinical technology
- Speech, language therapy
Training and education
Some allied health professions are more specialized, and so must adhere to national training and education standards and their professional scope of practice. Often they must prove their skills through degrees, diplomas, certified credentials, and continuing education. Other allied health professions require no special training or credentials and are trained for their work by their employer through on-the-job training (which would then exclude them from consideration as an Allied Health Profession in a country like Australia). Many allied health jobs are considered career ladder jobs because of the opportunities for advancement within specific fields.
Allied health professions can include the use of many skills. Depending on the profession, these may include basic life support; medical terminology, acronyms and spelling; basics of medical law and ethics; understanding of human relations; interpersonal communication skills; counseling skills; computer literacy; ability to document healthcare information; interviewing skills; and proficiency in word processing; database management and electronic dictation.
The explosion of scientific knowledge that followed World War II brought increasingly sophisticated and complex medical diagnostic and treatment procedures. Increasing public demand for medical services combined with higher health care costs provoked a trend toward expansion of service delivery from treating patients in hospitals to widespread provision of care in physician's private and group practices, ambulatory medical and emergency clinics, and mobile clinics and community-based care. In the developing world, international development assistance led to numerous initiatives for strengthening health workforce capacity to deliver essential health care services. What followed has been an increase in the need for skilled health care delivery personnel worldwide.
Changes in the health industry and emphasis on cost-efficient solutions to health care delivery will continue to encourage expansion of the allied health workforce. The World Health Organization estimates there is currently a worldwide shortage of about 2 million allied health professionals (considering all health workers aside from medical and nursing personnel) needed in order to meet global health goals.
In recognition of the growth of the number and diversity of allied health professionals in recent years, the newly adopted 2008 version of the International Standard Classification of Occupations has increased the number of groups dedicated to allied health professions. Depending on the presumed skill level, they may either be identified as “health professionals” or “health associate professionals”. For example, new categories have been created for delineating “paramedical practitioners” — grouping professions such as clinical officers, clinical associates, physician assistants, Feldshers, and assistant medical officers — as well as for community health workers; dietitians and nutritionists; audiologists and speech therapists; and others.
Allied health employment projections
Projections in the United States and many other countries have shown an expected long-term shortage of qualified workers to fill many allied health positions. This is primarily due to expansion of the health industry due to demographic changes (a growing and aging population), large numbers of health workers nearing retirement, the industry’s need to be cost efficient, and a lack of sufficient investment in training programs to keep pace with these trends.
Workforce and health care experts anticipate that health services will increasingly be delivered via ambulatory and nursing care settings rather than in hospitals. According to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the health care industry consists of three main sub-sectors, divided by the types of services provided at each facility:
- Hospitals: Primarily provides inpatient health services and may provide some outpatient services as a secondary activity.
- Ambulatory health care settings: Primarily provides outpatient services at facilities such as doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics and clinical laboratories.
- Nursing and residential care facilities: Provides residential care, such as community care for the elderly or mental health and substance abuse facilities.
In the US, a larger proportion of the allied health care workforce is already employed in ambulatory settings. In California, nearly half (49.4 percent) of the allied health workforce is employed in ambulatory health care settings, compared with 28.7 percent and 21.9 percent employed in hospital and nursing care, respectively.
Advancements in medical technology also allow for more services that formerly required expensive hospital stays to be delivered via ambulatory care. For example, in California, research has predicted the total consumption of hospital days per person will decline from 4 days in 2010 to 3.2 days in 2020 to 2.5 days in 2030. In contrast, the number of ambulatory visits per person will increase from 3.2 visits per person in 2010 to 3.6 visits per person in 2020 to 4.2 visits in 2030.
In developing countries, many national human resources for health strategic plans and international development initiatives are focusing on scaling up training of allied health professions, such as HIV/AIDS counsellors, clinical officers and community health workers, in providing essential preventive and treatment services in ambulatory and community-based care settings.
With this growing demand for ambulatory health care, researchers expect to witness a heavier demand for professions that are employed within the ambulatory sector and other non-hospital settings — in other words, allied health.
Roles not recognised as belonging to the allied health professions
There are an expanding number of profession roles that can contribute towards health but are not formally recognised as allied health professions. Youth workers, for example, through their interaction with a certain part of the population may be able to impart health advice in a non-threatening manner.
- Council of Allied Health Sciences Pakistan
- "What is Allied Health?". Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "University of California San Francisco, Advancing the Allied Health Professions". Futurehealth.ucsf.edu. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- Allied Health, Sciences. "Renal Dialysis Technology". SRU AHS. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Allied health career structure". Queensland Health. 15 August 2014.
- "Explore by career: Allied Health Professions: Careers in the allied health professions". NHS Careers. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Report to the National Allied Health Professional Advisory Board on the outcomes of the Modernising Allied Health Professional Careers Programme". Department of Health. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- "Protected titles". Health and Care Professions Council (UK). Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Health Professions Council of South Africa". Hpcsa.co.za. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- "United States Bureau of Labor Statistics". Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "Explore by career: Allied Health Professions: Skills required". NHS Careers. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- World Health Organization (2006), The World Health Report 2006. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Dal Poz MR et al. (2009), Boundaries of the health workforce: definition and classifications of health workers. In: Handbook on monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- "National Skills Coalition, America's Forgotten Middle Skills Jobs Report". Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "Association of Academic Health Centers Out of Order Out of Time Report". Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "California Endowment, Workforce Diversity". Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "North American Industry Classification System". Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "California Health Jobs, Help Wanted Report, page 13". Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- "PEPFAR Country Profile" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-06.
- AMA Allied health professionals
- Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP)
- Allied Health Professionals on NHS Careers (UK)