The allied health medical field continues to be of great interest to people looking for a reliable career; whether it’s a desire to help, earn a steady living, or realistically, a combination of both. There are career options available beyond that of a doctor or a nurse since medicine needs many people to act in supportive and supplementary roles within the field. These roles commonly fall under the allied health umbrella and you’re likely to have encountered many of the professionals from the field in your lifetime. If you’d like to find out more about what is allied health and the kind of jobs that are available within the field, keep on reading.
What is allied health?
Allied health refers to a segment of the healthcare field that supports the function of the health system by providing a range of services; these can include, but are not limited to, diagnostic, therapeutic, technical, and direct patient care. Allied health professionals’ work is often crucial, with many allied health professionals working directly with other health professionals and patients they aim to help. The field is set for future growth with the number of jobs in the field increasing to 19.8 million from the current 15.6 million. Many of the positions in the field will increasingly require bachelor’s and graduate degrees.
What is an allied health professional?
The title of ‘allied health professional’ is widely encompassing and can refer to different things depending on which specific field of medicine and care is being talked about. Here we list some common allied health roles (though there are many more) and what the role usually entails.
Dietitians typically help to translate the science of nutrition (dietetics) into easily understandable information about food for patients. A typical day can involve anything from advising people on their best diet, helping to diagnose and treat food related illnesses, and advising other health professionals on the best nutritional practice. The role can sit within a wider team of other professionals or as part of the community.
An art therapist will use art practice to help a variety of people, individually or in groups, to deal with their emotional problems and/or trauma. The role of an art therapist can sit within different sections of health service, like hospitals, education, prisons, and social services.
This is often the senior role sitting within the wider first response team. A paramedic is often the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency, equipped with a range of resuscitation and life-support skills. Paramedics can work as part of a two-person ambulance crew, emergency response car or a motorbike. Besides patient contact, paramedics also deal with members of the public and relatives.
A podiatrist provides care to patients experiencing problems with their legs and feet; this can involve treatment or preventative measures. Podiatrists are likely to encounter patients who are at risk of amputation due to arthritis or diabetes and need critical care. Other aspects will focus on advising patients on good general foot health and dealing with sports injuries.
Using the latest technology available, diagnostic radiographers look through the tissues of the body to help establish causes of illnesses. This involves frequent use of X-ray, CT scans (looking at cross sections of the body), angiography (investigation of blood vessels), MRI (2D/3D mapping of the body), and many more.
The role of an osteopath is often varied, involving prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health problems. Manual therapy and exercise are often used to promote good health practices in patients, decided on a patient-by-patient basis to ensure that treatment is individually tailored.
The above list shows just some of the roles available within the field of allied health with many more out there. The pay is similarly varied but a career within allied health lends itself to steady growth and progression, so it’s worth considering if you’re looking for an occupation that allows for further education and progression. Check out the career hub for more tips and information to help you land a job within the allied health field.