Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Allied Health Professionals with 2020 Vision

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Allied Health Professionals with 2020 Vision

Article excerpt

Allied health professionals in all disciplines must be visionary as they address education, training, and health care delivery in the next decade. Examined herein are forces of change in education, training, health care, the recognition of essential leadership styles, and the paradigm shifts facing the allied health profession in the health care arena. Some visionary directions are offered for allied health professionals to consider as health policy and clinical agendas emerge toward the year 2020. J Allied Health 2007; 36:236-240.

ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS are experiencing shifts that education, technology, the economy, and society are driving as we enter the new millennium.1 Allied health professionals should have a vision for the health care marketplace over the next 20 years and see it with clarity. In doing so, allied health professionals must consider (1) the effects of technology and automation on research and health care delivery; (2) the important influences of political, economic, and social change; (3) the progress made to develop and understand more clearly professional needs of health care personnel; and (4) the changes in population demographics in the United States that will have a direct impact on the first three points.

The advent of telemetry, technology, and other new mediums of communication, which aid in both obtaining and analyzing information, provides new challenges to health care professionals.2 The impact of the Human Genome Project will continue to uncover discoveries toward improving our understanding of the molecular mechanisms in preventing, diagnosing, and treating human diseases.3 Emerging paradigms provide an organizational focus that will shift from single-site initiatives to networks of health care services bonded and partnered by Web-oriented technology and integrated delivery systems.4,5 These changes force health care professionals to explore and examine the way in which the providers deliver services in the emerging paradigms of a health promotion and disease prevention delivery network for the future.

What Are the 21st Century Driving Forces for Allied Health?

The new millennium brings the potential for an integrated clinical, research, and educational collaborative environment that must consider economic, demographic, environmental, social, epidemiological, political, and technological change.6,7 The focus of this collaborative environment must address the critical elements of globalization, empowerment, technology, and leadership in the health care arena today.

Globalization is a historical process, the result of human innovation and technological advances. It refers to the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through collaboration and partnering. The world is rapidly changing, and globalization is helping to establish common social, economic, and political agreements between countries, as evidenced by the 1993 Maastricht Agreement that established the European Union and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.8 These agreements provide the content and rationale for government involvement in enhancing educational opportunities and removing barriers that heretofore have limited the flow of students, educators, professionals, and practices across borders. Globalization refers to the movement of people (labor) and knowledge (technology) across international borders. There are broader cultural, political, and environmental dimensions of globalization, but for the allied health professions it refers to a holistic perspective, the ability to bridge disciplinary, technological, and cultural gaps and to become global in our learning and problem solving in health care. To date, globalization in the health care professions has yet to be fully addressed because of the barriers in place that relate, in many instances, to issues such as the competitive nature of our health-related disciplines, a hierarchy reflected by a vertical rather than horizontal model, and credentialing and licensure variation by discipline, state, and/or nation. …

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