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What is Allied Health?

January 9, 2018
Posted by: David Sands

Allied Health Professions | UMFK

What Is Allied Health?

When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you might receive answers like “doctor” or “nurse.” Even in adulthood, most people associate the health care field with the most visible practitioners of medicine, like doctors, registered nurses, dentists and pharmacists.

However, as many as 60 percent of health care workers are actually allied health professionals who fall outside our narrow conception of the health care field.1 Broadly speaking, they can fulfill any of the following functions:

  • Diagnostic testing, such as operating MRI machines or performing lab analysis to identify and evaluate diseases or disorders
  • Assisting medical professionals in treating patients
  • Developing and implementing nutritional and dietary plans in a variety of locations, like nursing facilities, schools or private practices
  • Applying rigorous, structured rehabilitation plans and strategies for many potential purposes, such as occupational, speech and physical therapy
  • Designing and fabricating medical devices such as dental crowns or heart stents
  • Acting as a manager or administrator of a health care facility

In the United States, allied health generally excludes those who practice medicine or nursing. Because this is such a wide definition, most of the health professions you can think of fall under the umbrella term “allied health.”

Who Works in Allied Health?

Allied health professionals can work directly with doctors, registered nurses, dentists and pharmacists, or they may have their own separate practices. Some have a diagnostic role, whereas others may specialize in medical documentation. Still, others may counsel, educate or otherwise work one-on-one with patients to improve their quality of life.

Each allied health professional’s day-to-day life looks different from the rest. Here are just a few examples of those who are considered allied health professionals:

  • Athletic trainers
  • Physical therapists
  • Dietitians and nutritionists
  • Counselors and therapists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • EMTs and paramedics
  • Imaging specialists
  • Diagnostic personnel
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Physician assistants
  • Medical assistants
  • Pharmacy personnel
  • Dental personnel
  • Health administrators
  • Health information technologists
  • Health educators

Why Should I Consider a Degree and Career in Allied Health?

Allied health care is a field that only continues to grow. It is estimated that the number of workers in allied health will increase from 15.6 million to 19.8 million between 2010 and 2020, concurrent with an increase in demand for these types of professionals.2 Thus, someone who wishes to earn a degree or start a career in allied health in the next few years will most likely enter a favorable job market.

For those who want to work in the health care field, but have familial or financial obligations that prevent them from completing a doctoral degree or medical school, a job in allied health care is a great way to follow their passions while remaining practical.

Some allied health jobs don’t require a degree at all, just a certificate, which is why many people choose these fields when they want to make a major career change.

Last but certainly not least, a degree in allied health allows the degree holder the flexibility to work in a variety of health care capacities for the betterment of their community. Whether you like the focus of laboratory work and medical records or prefer to work directly with people, a degree in allied health can make those dreams come true.

Pursue an Online Program in Allied Health with University of Maine Fort Kent

If you are an allied health graduate with an associate’s degree in the allied health field, your career may benefit from completing a program in Allied Health at University of Maine Fort Kent (UMFK). UMFK is one of the most affordable public colleges or universities in the entire nation, meaning your investment in an allied health degree will pay off quickly by catapulting you forward in your career with little to no student debt.

If you think the Allied Health program might be the right next step for you, apply online or call us at (207) 834-7600.

1 http://www.asahp.org/what-is/

2https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57a64a023e00beb95af13929/t/57f59d17e6f2e1b801ff50c8/1475714327542/Health-Professions-Facts.pdf