Careers in Allied Health Professions
Goodwin, Della McGraw, Diversity Employers
More than a decade ago in a 1980 report titled "The Future of Allied Health," the National Commission on Allied Health Education described the term allied health as "an unsatisfactory reference to occupational clusters having to do with the provision and promotion of health." It is an umbrella term that usually excludes those professions that claim independent areas of practice such as allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) physicians.
Dissatisfaction with the term continues today, leaving even those who work in the field with an uncertainty about which disciplines are "allied" and which are not.
Often, the term "allied health professions" is used to underscore the aspiration of the health community to build an "alliance" among all its disciplines to deliver comprehensive services to individuals and targeted populations. Estimates of the number of job titles "allied" to achieve that goal range from 122 to 160.
Medicine, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy make up the largest numbers of health care providers. As each of these professions emerged, the body of knowledge and skills germane to these new helpers became recognized as definitive, specific areas of expertise.
Today, the American Medical Association's Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) accredits educational programs that prepare personnel for 26 or more different job titles. Titles such as physician assistant, occupational therapist, medical record technician, and medical illustrator are among this group.
An informative sketch of 26 occupations is presented in the Allied Health Educational Directory. This library reference is published by the Division of Allied Health Education of the American Medical Association.
Nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry have each established entry-level. helping roles designated by titles such as technical nurse, vocational nurse, pharmacy assistant, dental assistant, and dental hygienist.
The American Hospital Association, concerned with standards of administrative leadership, collaborates with the Accrediting Commission on Education for Health Services Administration to accredit educational programs at the master's and doctoral level. Graduates compete for administrative positions that give them responsibility for the direction and operation of various units of a health services delivery system. Position titles such as corporate president, vice president for operations, hospital administrator, executive director, division head, and director are commonly used.
The National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) is an organization of African-American health administrators. Their primary goal is the support of each other and the recruitment of African Americans into health administration. NAHSE has established student clubs on some Historically Black College campuses.
Health professionals who devote their practice to protection of the public health constitute yet another category of worker. These practitioners work in partnership with local consumers to identify health needs of neighborhoods and implement plans to meet them. The work falls into four broad areas (1) Public Health, Administration (2) Public Health Education (3) Community Practice and (4) Research.
Job titles in public health range from dean, School of Public Health to health educator, epidemiologist to community health nurse, chief investigator for research to environmentalist.
The Association of Schools of Public Health, located at 1015 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Suite 404 in Washington, DC, is one source of additional information about careers in public health. The National Association of Community Health Centers administers a program called "Manpower Access to Community Health" (MATCH). The purpose of this program is to place eligible, baccalaureate-prepared aspirants at community health centers as administrative or clinical fellows. …