Definition of Allied Health
Allied health may be defined as those health professions that are distinct from medicine and nursing.
Allied health encompasses a broad group of health professionals who use scientific principles and evidence-based practice for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic diseases; promote disease prevention and wellness for optimum health, and apply administration and management skills to support health care systems in a variety of settings.
The professions included as allied health vary from country to country; however, estimates have suggested that as much as 60% of the U.S. healthcare workforce may be classified as allied health.Allied health plays an essential role in the delivery of health care and related services in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Allied health professionals are concerned with the identification, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment of acute and chronic diseases and disorders; provision of dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation services; and the management and operation of health systems. Allied health professionals apply scientific principles and evidence-based practice in order to optimize patient or client outcomes. Allied health professionals must also attend to the prevention of disease and the management of patients with chronic disease. Thus, the scope of allied health practice extends to the individual, the family, the community and to public education; many allied health professions specialize in the promotion of optimum function and health and the improvement of health-related quality of life. In addition, heath care administration and health systems management are important components of allied health.
Professions that are often listed as “allied health” include many of the well-known non-nurse, non-physician health care providers including audiologists and speech language pathologists; physical therapists, occupational therapists and respiratory therapists; diagnostic medical personnel (medical laboratory scientists, cytogenetic technologists, diagnostic molecular scientists, histotechnologists, and pathologists’ assistants); imaging specialists (radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists, and sonographers); nutritionists and dietitians; and physician assistants. Others often included in allied health include dental personnel (dental hygienists and dental assistants); emergency medical personnel (EMTs, paramedics); exercise science professionals (athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, kinesiotherapists ); health information technologists; health educators (asthma educators, diabetes educators); counselors (genetic counselors, mental health counselors, family therapists); specialists in cancer diagnosis and treatment (medical physicists, medical dosimetrists, and radiation therapists); pharmacy personnel (pharmacy technicians and assistants) and other healthcare providers and support personnel, such as medical assistants. There are also a very large number of less well known health care professions generally considered as allied health. Table 1 lists many of the allied health professions, as well as the sources listing these as allied health professions.
Allied health educational programs seek to prepare competent allied health professionals and leaders for practice across multiple health care settings. Allied health educational programs are offered at a variety of postsecondary educational institutions.
There are a number of major allied health organizations in the U.S., including, but not limited to, the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP).
Federal Definitions of Allied Health
Allied health is defined in the Federal Code and further defined in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Allied health is also included in eligibility criteria for participation in grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Public Health Service. The ACA (P.L. 111-148) defines allied health professionals as follows: 1) ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.—The term “allied health professional” means an allied health professional as defined in section 799B(5) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 295p(5)) who— (A) has graduated and received an allied health professions degree or certificate from an institution of higher education; and (B) is employed with a Federal, State, local or tribal public health agency, or in a setting or in a setting where patients might require health care services, including acute care facilities, ambulatory care facilities, personal residences, and other settings located in health professional shortage areas, medically underserved areas, or medically underserved populations, as recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter V, Part F, Sec. 295p of the Federal Code states that the term ”allied health professionals” means a health professional (other than a registered nurse or physician assistant) who has not received a degree of doctor of medicine, a degree of doctor of osteopathy, a degree of doctor of dentistry or an equivalent degree, a degree of doctor of veterinary medicine or an equivalent degree, a degree of doctor of optometry or an equivalent degree, a degree of doctor of podiatric medicine or an equivalent degree, a degree of bachelor of science in pharmacy or an equivalent degree, a degree of doctor of pharmacy or an equivalent degree, a graduate degree in public health or an equivalent degree, a degree of doctor of chiropractic or an equivalent degree, a graduate degree in health administration or an equivalent degree, a doctoral degree in clinical psychology or an equivalent degree, or a degree in social work or an equivalent degree or a degree in counseling or an equivalent degree.
RESOLVED, the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP) Board of Directors approves the above definition of allied health on this 27th day of October, 2015.
- Center for the Health Professions at UCSF http://www.futurehealth.ucsf.edu/Public/Center-Research/Home.aspx?pid=88
- ASAHP web site http://www.asahp.org/definition.htm).
- (2. Trends Trends Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, FEBRUARY 2011, p. 4; )
- CAAHEP) accredited programs that prepare entry level practitioners in 22 health sciences professions http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/
- The Health Professions Network (HPN) is a collaborative group representing allied health professions; http://www.healthpronet.org/about/index.html
- Allied Health Workforce Analysis Los Angeles Region, Timothy Bates, M.P.P. Susan Chapman, Ph.D, R.N. The Center for the Health Professions, May, 2008, UCSF Center for the Health Professions 3333 California Street, Suite 410 San Francisco, CA 94118 http://futurehealth.ucsf.edu Appendix A, p. 62
- The AMA’s Health Care Careers Directory (http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/careers-health-care.shtml ) lists information about more than 80 careers in health care and 8,600 accredited educational programs in those health care fields, listed in the following categories:
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Health Professions (BHPR ) http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/factbook.htm#Allied%20Health National Center for Health Workforce Analysis: U.S. Health Workforce Personnel Factbook
Table 1. Allied Health Professions
Anesthesiologist assistant3, 4 Anesthesia technologist/technician3, 4Anesthesia technology4
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians3, 5 Cardiovascular technology4
Behavioral disorder counselors5
Dental hygienists1, 5 , dental assistants1, 5 dental laboratory technicians 1
Diagnostic medical sonography4 Diagnostic medical sonographers5
Dietitians1, 5, Dietetic technicians1, 5 dietetic assistants1 Registered dietitian2 Nutritionists 5
Electroneurodiagnostic technologist3 Electroneurodiagnostic technology4
Emergency Medical Technician EMT, Paramedic 1,3,4 , 5
Exercise science (personal fitness trainer, exercise physiologist, and exercise science
Home health aides5
Marriage and family therapists5
Medical assistant3, 5 Medical assisting4
Medical illustrator3Medical illustration4
Mental health counselors5
Occupational therapists1, 2, 5Occupational therapy assistants1, 5 Occupational therapist aides5
Ophthalmic medical assistants1, 2, optometric assistants and technicians1 , Paraoptometrician2
Other social and mental health service workers1
Pharmacy assistants1 Pharmacy Aides5 Pharmacy technicians5
Physical therapists1, 5 Physical therapy assistants1, 5 Physical therapist aides5
Psychiatric aids5 Psychiatric technicians5
Rehabilitation counselors5 Other rehabilitation service workers1
Respiratory therapy workers1 Respiratory therapist2, ,3, 5
Speech pathologist1 Speech –language therapists5
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors5
Vocational rehabilitation counselors 1
- HRSA BPR
- Additional areas listed by BLS as health occupations Allied Health Workforce Analysis Los Angeles Region, Timothy Bates, M.P.P. Susan Chapman, Ph.D, R.N. The Center for the Health Professions, May, 2008, UCSF Center for the Health Professions 3333 California Street, Suite 410 San Francisco, CA 94118 http://futurehealth.ucsf.edu Appendix A, p. 62 Detailed Listing of Occupations Represented by Broad Standard Occupation Code Groups Used in this Report SOC 21-1010: Community and Social Service Counselors Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors Educational, Vocational and School Counselors Marriage and Family Therapists Mental Health Counselors