Discover What Are the 12 Allied Health Professionals and Their Roles

Do you know what an allied health professional is? It’s an umbrella term for over 12 professions that work together to support patient care. These professionals are indispensable to the healthcare system, serving as the backbone in the delivery of quality medical services.

The list of allied health professionals includes some familiar names such as nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. However, there are also other lesser-known professions such as diagnostic medical sonographers, respiratory therapists, and speech-language pathologists. They all work together to provide a range of services that help patients improve their health and wellbeing.

While doctors and nurses typically get all the attention, the contributions of these allied health professionals cannot be ignored. They play a crucial role in patient care, from preventing the spread of infection to helping patients recover from difficult surgeries. So, let’s take a closer look at these 12 allied health professionals and learn more about their important work.

Overview of Allied Health Professionals

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are healthcare workers who contribute to the provision of healthcare services, but are not doctors, nurses, or pharmacists. They work alongside medical practitioners to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and direct patient care services in a variety of settings. In the United States, there are at least 12 different allied health professions, each with unique responsibilities and educational requirements.

  • Medical Laboratory Technologists: Medical laboratory technologists perform laboratory tests on patient specimens to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
  • Radiologic Technologists: Radiologic technologists perform imaging tests, such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans, to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: Diagnostic medical sonographers use specialized equipment to produce diagnostic images, such as ultrasound, of internal organs and tissues.
  • Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists work with patients to develop, recover, or improve the skills needed for daily living and working.
  • Physical Therapists: Physical therapists work with patients to develop, recover, or improve movement and physical function following an injury or illness.
  • Respiratory Therapists: Respiratory therapists treat patients with breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders to improve lung function and overall health.
  • Clinical Dietitians: Clinical dietitians assess and provide medical nutrition therapy to patients to promote health and manage diseases.
  • Speech-Language Pathologists: Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in patients.
  • Clinical Psychologists: Clinical psychologists assess and treat patients with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
  • Social Workers: Social workers provide emotional and social support to patients and their families, and connect them with community resources.
  • Pharmacists: Pharmacists prepare and dispense medications, and provide drug-related education to patients and healthcare providers.
  • Medical Dosimetrists: Medical dosimetrists are experts in radiation therapy treatment planning, who work with radiation oncologists and radiation therapists to ensure accurate and safe delivery of radiation treatments to cancer patients.

Each of these professions has a set of educational requirements that must be met in order to practice. These requirements vary depending on the profession, but typically involve completion of a specific degree program and/or certification exam. Allied health professionals work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and rehabilitation centers.

Differences between Allied Health Professionals and Medical Professionals

Both Allied Health Professionals and Medical Professionals are critical components of the healthcare industry. Although they work together towards a common goal, there are notable differences between these two groups of professionals.

  • Allied Health Professionals do not hold a medical degree, unlike Medical Professionals such as doctors and specialists who have completed medical school.
  • Allied Health Professionals focus on the prevention, treatment and management of various medical conditions by providing a range of diagnostic, technical, therapeutic, and direct patient care services. They work in diverse settings, including hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and rehabilitation centres.
  • On the other hand, Medical Professionals specialize in providing direct medical care to patients, for instance, by prescribing medication, performing procedures and surgeries, and developing treatment plans. The different specialties of medical professionals include anaesthesiology, neurology, cardiology, and paediatrics.

The table below shows some common professions in each of these fields:

Allied Health ProfessionalsMedical Professionals
PhysiotherapistsDoctors
PharmacistsSurgeons
NursesAnaesthesiologists
Occupational TherapistsEndocrinologists

While both Medical Professionals and Allied Health Professionals play important roles in the healthcare industry, understanding the differences between them can help clarify the roles and responsibilities of each profession.

Importance of Allied Health Professionals in Healthcare

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are the backbone of healthcare service delivery. These are non-physician healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors and nurses to provide patient care and support. They have a critical role in the delivery of healthcare services and work in a variety of settings including hospitals, community clinics, and private practices. Here we will discuss the importance of AHPs in healthcare and their contribution to the delivery of quality healthcare services.

Roles and Responsibilities of Allied Health Professionals

  • Assessment of Patient Care needs
  • Development and implementation of patient care plans
  • Provision of treatments and therapies
  • Management of medical equipment and supplies
  • Collection and interpretation of patient records and data
  • Education and counseling of patients and families

Contribution of Allied Health Professionals in Healthcare

AHPs play a significant role in healthcare service delivery. They work collaboratively with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to provide holistic and quality care to patients. Their contribution to healthcare delivery is recognized and valued by patients and healthcare organizations alike. Some of the ways in which AHPs contribute to healthcare delivery are:

  • Improved patient outcomes – AHPs are involved in the development and implementation of patient care plans, which leads to improved patient outcomes.
  • Improved patient satisfaction – AHPs provide education, counseling, and support to patients and their families, which leads to improved patient satisfaction.
  • Increased cost-effectiveness of healthcare – AHPs provide cost-effective solutions to healthcare delivery by reducing the need for specialized care and preventing hospital readmissions.

Types of Allied Health Professionals

There are over 12 different types of AHPs, each with their own unique skills and expertise. AHPs work in various disciplines such as diagnostic services, rehabilitation services, and therapeutic services. Some of the most common types of AHPs are:

Type of AHPDiscipline
Occupational TherapistsRehabilitation Services
Physical TherapistsRehabilitation Services
Speech-Language PathologistsTherapeutic Services
Diagnostic Medical SonographersDiagnostic Services
Respiratory TherapistsTherapeutic Services

In conclusion, Allied Health Professionals are essential in healthcare service delivery. Their roles and responsibilities, contribution, and the types of disciplines they work in are vital to the overall success of health systems. It is therefore important to acknowledge and appreciate the work that AHPs do and create an enabling environment that supports their practice and development.

Educational Requirements for Allied Health Professions

One of the key factors that distinguishes allied health professionals from other healthcare workers is their specialized training. To become an allied health professional, individuals must complete certain educational requirements that allow them to develop the specific skills and knowledge they need to excel in their field. Here we will discuss the educational requirements for 12 different allied health professions.

4) Medical Laboratory Technicians

  • Associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology or a related field
  • Completion of a clinical practicum
  • State licensure or certification may be required

Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) play an essential role in the healthcare industry, assisting physicians in diagnosing and treating patients by performing laboratory tests on bodily fluids and tissue samples. To become an MLT, you need to complete an associate’s degree program in medical laboratory technology or a related field. These programs typically take two years to complete and cover a wide range of topics, including clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, and microbiology.

In addition to classroom instruction, MLT programs also require students to complete a clinical practicum, which provides hands-on training in a real-world laboratory setting. During the practicum, students work under the supervision of experienced MLTs and learn how to perform a variety of laboratory tests and procedures.

After completing an MLT program, you may need to obtain state licensure or certification before you can begin working as a professional medical laboratory technician. The specific requirements for licensure or certification vary depending on the state in which you plan to work. However, most states require MLTs to pass a certification exam from an accredited agency, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Skills and Knowledge RequiredEducation Level
Experience with laboratory equipment and proceduresAssociate’s degree
Ability to analyze and interpret laboratory results
Attention to detail and accuracy
Knowledge of laboratory safety protocols

In addition to their educational requirements, successful medical laboratory technicians typically possess a strong set of skills and knowledge that allow them to perform their job duties effectively. These may include experience with laboratory equipment and procedures, the ability to analyze and interpret laboratory results, attention to detail and accuracy, and knowledge of laboratory safety protocols.

Salary and Job Outlook for Allied Health Professionals

Allied health professionals play an essential role in the healthcare industry, and they earn a decent salary for their contribution. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for all healthcare occupations was $68,190 as of May 2020. However, allied health professionals’ salaries vary depending on several factors, such as education, experience, location, and specialty.

  • Dental Hygienists: The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $77,090 in May 2020, and their job outlook is expected to grow by 6% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: The median annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $69,650 in May 2020, and their job outlook is projected to grow by 17% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: The median annual wage for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $54,180 in May 2020. The job outlook for medical technologists and technicians is projected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

Overall, many allied health professions’ job outlooks look promising due to the increasing demand for healthcare services as the population ages and advances in medical technology.

Here’s a table showing the median annual wages for some allied health professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

OccupationMedian Annual Wage (May 2020)
Dental Hygienists$77,090
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers$69,650
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians$54,180
Physical Therapists$91,010
Occupational Therapists$86,280

As you can see, allied health professionals can earn a good salary while making a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. Moreover, the job outlook for most of these professions looks bright, providing a great opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Role of Allied Health Professionals in Patient Care

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) play crucial roles in the overall care of patients. These professionals, who work hand in hand with medical doctors and nurses, provide essential support services to a patient to help them recover from health-related issues.

Here are the specific roles that Allied Health Professionals are responsible for in patient care:

  • Diagnostic Services: Medical scientists, radiographers, and laboratory technologists perform various diagnostic procedures that aid the medical team in determining the root cause of a particular medical condition.
  • Therapeutic Services: Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists provide different types of therapies that help patients overcome or manage certain medical conditions.
  • Nutrition and Dietetics: Clinical dietitians and nutritionists establish the appropriate diet and nutritional needs that are customized to each patient. This is essential for patients who have health conditions that require a specific diet.
  • Rehab Services: Occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists help patients regain their strength and learn new basic living skills to enhance their independence.
  • Social Services: Social workers, psychologists, and counselors provide assistance to patients and their families, particularly when a health condition or medical diagnosis creates emotional, mental or social challenges.
  • Assistive Technology: Biomedical engineers and other AHPs specialized in assistive technology work to develop and implement technology that supports patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities.

As you can see, AHPs play an essential role in ensuring that patients receive holistic healthcare. They provide support services to the medical team and assist patients in their recovery process.

Allied Health ProfessionalRole
Diagnostic Medical SonographerUses special imaging equipment to diagnose medical conditions
Clinical DietitianAssesses patients’ nutritional needs, develops specialized diets, and monitors adherence to prescribed diets
Occupational TherapistAssists patients in developing the skills needed for daily living and work activities, including physical exercises and therapy sessions
PsychologistDiagnoses and treats mental health disorders, and provides psychological support to patients
Biomedical EngineerDesigns and implements assistive medical technology for patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities

The role of Allied Health Professionals in patient care is crucial to ensuring that all aspects of a patient’s healthcare are addressed. They work alongside medical doctors and nurses to provide comprehensive and personalized care to patients.

Advancements in Allied Health Professions

As the demand for healthcare continues to grow, so does the need for skilled allied health professionals. There are a vast number of professions within the allied health field, all of which have seen advancements in recent years. Here, we take a look at 12 of the most important and impactful allied health professions, including their history, duties, and the recent advancements that are improving patient outcomes.

7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

  • A diagnostic medical sonographer is a specialist who uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal body structures.
  • Their work is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions, including pregnancy, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Recent advancements in sonography technology have allowed for more detailed and accurate images to be produced, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment outcomes.

In addition to the technological advancements in sonography, there have also been advancements in the training and education of diagnostic medical sonographers. Many programs now offer specialized training in areas such as obstetrics and gynecology, cardiac sonography, and vascular sonography.

Advancements in Diagnostic Medical SonographyImpact on Patient Outcomes
3D and 4D imaging technologyImproved accuracy in diagnosis and treatment planning, better visualization of fetal abnormalities in pregnancy
Elastography (measures tissue stiffness)Ability to distinguish between benign and malignant tumors, earlier detection of liver disease
Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (uses microbubbles to improve imaging)Better imaging of blood vessels and tumors, improved diagnosis of liver and breast cancer

As technology and training continue to advance, the role of diagnostic medical sonographers will continue to be integral in the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. Patients can expect to receive the most accurate and advanced imaging technology available, leading to better treatment outcomes and improved quality of life.

What are the 12 Allied Health Professionals?

Q: Who are the allied health professionals?
A: Allied health professionals are healthcare providers who are not physicians or nurses. They are trained to support and complement the work of doctors and nurses in providing patient care.

Q: How many allied health professionals are there?
A: There are 12 professions recognized as allied health professionals, including diagnostic medical sonographers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists, among others.

Q: What do diagnostic medical sonographers do?
A: Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to capture images of the body’s internal organs and tissues.

Q: What do occupational therapists do?
A: Occupational therapists help patients develop or recover the skills needed for daily living and working through exercises and therapeutic activities.

Q: What do physical therapists do?
A: Physical therapists help patients recover from injuries and illnesses that affect their movement and mobility through exercises and other physical interventions.

Q: What do speech-language pathologists do?
A: Speech-language pathologists provide therapy to people with speech and language disorders to help them improve their speech or language abilities.

Q: What is the role of the remaining allied health professionals?
A: Each of the remaining allied health professions have unique roles in supporting patient care, from radiation therapy for cancer treatment to diet and nutrition counseling.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know who the 12 Allied Health Professionals are and what they do, you can appreciate the important role they play in supporting the work of doctors and nurses. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us again for more interesting topics.