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A Deeper Look Into Careers of Allied Health

A Deeper Look Into Careers of Allied Health

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

According to the BLS, healthcare occupations are expected to take a 15% jump in demand over the next ten years by 2029.

If you’re interested in a new career option and one that involves the medical field, it might be the right time to consider getting the training you need.

Do you like the idea of working hands-on with patients? Do you want to work behind the scenes in support of other medical professionals?

An allied health career might be the right choice for you. What is an allied health job? How can you get the proper training for allied health careers?

Read on to learn more about your options for jobs in allied health and how you can prepare for a career in the field.

What Are Allied Health Career Options?

Allied health professionals are a group of healthcare workers who use scientific principles and evidence-based practice as they work in their chosen health care field. It’s believed that up to 60% of health care workers across the US are considered allied health workers.

These workers often work in supporting roles of other healthcare workers, but not always. This classified group of health workers is responsible for a significant amount of the healthcare services received across the US today.

In addition to the careers covered here, allied healthcare workers also include:

●       Dental hygienists

●       Dieticians

●       Medical technologists

●       Diagnostic medical sonographers

●       Physical therapists

●       Occupational therapists

●       Radiographers

●       Respiratory therapists

●       Speech-language pathologists

Their roles involve hands-on care of patients, support of other medical professionals, and operations of medical facilities, to name just a little of the impact these workers have in the healthcare community.

Specifically, allied health professionals work to:

●       Identify, diagnose, evaluate and treat both chronic and acute diseases and disorders

●       Provide dietary and nutrition services

●       Rehabilitation services

●       Manage and be involved in the operation of health systems

It’s worth noting again that allied health professionals base their work on scientific data and evidence-based practice to provide the best in health care services.

Let’s look at some of the career options in allied health and how you can get the training to join the field.

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is a support staff person for a doctor and in running a doctor’s office. Their role can vary depending on the type and size of the medical office.

If you’ve ever visited a doctor’s office or checked in at the hospital, you’ve met a medical assistant.

In many doctor’s offices, the medical assistant is responsible for meeting with the patient before they see the doctor. In addition to taking you to the exam room, they may take your vitals and get an accurate weight for your chart.

They will listen to your symptoms and concerns and record them for the doctor in the chart. While a medical assistant can have direct patient contact, they can’t give out medical advice or care. They work in support of the medical professionals who can do that.

Medical assistants can also do more administrative duties too. These might include things like:

●       Scheduling appointments

●       Answering the office phones

●       Updating charts

●       Coding insurance forms

●       Billing, bookkeeping, and handling other medical office communications

The objectives of a quality medical assistant program include preparing the student for a wide range of duties and responsibilities in support of the doctor and their office.

Healthcare Office Assistant

If you’ve ever visited a doctor’s office where things run smoothly and the appointments and patient care are top-notch, you know how nice it is for the patient experience. Likewise, if you’ve ever been frustrated in a doctor’s office, you know how bad it can feel for the patient.

A well-trained and professional healthcare assistant is key to a well-run doctor’s office and a positive patient experience.

Considering this career choice, you should be comfortable and comfortable talking to patients. Often the office assistant is the first and last person a patient sees when they come and go from a doctor’s office.

Training for the healthcare office assistant role includes:

●       Complete understanding of the workings of the human body

●       Learn to streamline patient care starting from the initial scheduling process

●       Proficiency in organizational methods

●       Clerical duties

●       Working knowledge of billing and coding for insurance purposes

A professional healthcare office assistant is key to a well-run doctor’s office or clinic.

Pharmacy Technician

So, what does a pharmacy technician do? A pharmacy technician works in direct support of a licensed pharmacist. But don’t assume that means you’re a glorified personal assistant.

A pharmacy technician will have direct patient interactions and need a good working knowledge of the pharmacy industry. Duties for a pharmacy technician might include:

●       Greeting patients to establish records

●       Intake of pharmaceutical prescriptions

●       Communicate findings through industry-driven computer software to patients

●       Working knowledge of prescriptions

●       Working knowledge of the body and its functions

●       Process medication requests

When you visit your local pharmacy, the pharmacy technician is responsible for dispensing, packaging, and labeling the medications you get once the script is filled.

A student studying to become a pharmacy technician should be thoroughly trained to prepare upon completion of their program to take the PTCB exam. Once they complete the exam, they’re ready to work as a pharmacy technician.

Drug and Alcohol Counselors

So, what does a drug and alcohol counselor do? They are responsible for working with those facing addiction to drugs or alcohol. A counselor might do individual or group sessions to help their patients work on their addiction.

Requirements to be a drug and alcohol counselor vary from state to state. To work as an alcohol and drug counselor in California, you must attend a college program approved by one of the state’s certifying bodies.

This might include the California Consortium of Addiction Professionals and Programs (CCAPP) or the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Educators (CAADE). 

If you want to work directly with those in need through counseling and behavioral changes, becoming a drug and alcohol counselor might be the perfect fit.

Behavioral Health Assistant

The mental healthcare community also needs technicians and mental healthcare assistants. If you study to become a Behavioral Health Assistant, you can work with patients or in support of other mental healthcare professionals.

The Behavioral Health Assistant would learn to provide specific mental health services that might include:

●       Community integration

●       Intensive case management

●       Assertive community treatment

●       Skills development

●       Family psycho-education

You shouldn’t worry that you need a background in mental healthcare services to take on this career.

In fact, through the Behavioral Health Assistant program, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need to enter the field and work in support of healthy mental health.

In less than a year of classes, students in this program can learn the necessary background information and skills to work in support of the mental healthcare community. 

Find a Great Career in the Medical Field Through Allied Health

Consider pursuing an allied health career. With a wide variety of options and a growing demand, it’s a smart career move for anyone interested in medical professionals. 

At InterCoast Colleges, we offer some of the programs listed here. We can get you the necessary training and work in the field soon. To learn more about our allied healthcare programs of study, contact us today to get more information.

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