ALLIED HEALTH CAREERS
The expression "allied health career" came into use in the 1940’s to designate a cluster of health-related personnel who fulfill necessary roles in the healthcare system, including assisting, facilitating and complementing the work of physicians and other healthcare specialists. Many allied health professions have developed in the last 40 years due to rapid advancements in health care technologies. Students aspiring to these professions typically find an ideal balance in their lives: their profession provides both intellectual stimulation and economic security, and they take pride in a service that they perform for society. Health careers also offer great mobility. A community large enough to support a hospital will contain a spectrum of health professionals. More than 6.7 million workers are currently employed in medical services; physicians make up only 8% of this number. The United States Department of Labor projects that health services will grow much faster than the overall industrial average. The fastest growth (by percentage rate) will occur for home health aides (96%), physical therapists (87%), medical assistants (77%), radiologic technicians (72%) and occupational therapists (65%). There are currently critical shortages of epidemiologists, biostatisticians and environmental health, health finance and economic specialists, as well as a shortage of competent managers for health delivery systems.
There are 6,700 training programs in allied health occupations in the United States; some of them accept students directly from high school, others require one or more years of college coursework prior to admission. Such preliminary work can be completed at Oglethorpe University. Interest in particular allied health fields - and thus competition for admission to training programs -- varies tremendously. Overall, about 89% of the possible student positions in accredited allied health education programs are filled each year. Of 3,000 hospitals surveyed by the American Hospital Association, 90% experience difficulty recruiting one or more types of allied health professionals. Demand exceeds supply in nine out of ten allied health fields; about 168,000 hospital positions are unfilled currently.
NURSING: The United States is in a nursing shortage that is projected to intensify. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 800,000 nursing positions will be unfilled in 2020 and projects that employment for registered nurses will grow faster than any other occupation through at least 2018. Annual earnings of registered nurses employed in nursing averaged $ 60,970 in 2007; nurse practitioners and nurses with doctoral degrees earned substantially more. Information on careers in nursing can be obtained from the National League for Nursing at http://www.nln.org; or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing at http://www.aacn.nche.edu. http://www.allnursingschools.com is a good resource also. Accelerated (12-18 month) programs allowing individuals with baccalaureate or graduate degrees in other fields to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are now common.
PHYSICAL THERAPY: Master’s and clinical doctoral programs are now the entry level routes to physical therapy. A strong liberal arts education that encourages intellectual discovery, problem solving and critical thinking, and enhances maturity is viewed as ideal preparation for professional training in physical therapy. Contact: American Physical Therapy Association, http://www.apta.org click on “education”, then “prospective students” or at http://www.ptcentral.com. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mean annual income for Physical Therapists in 2011 was $ 79,830.
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT: Physician assistants (PAs) diagnose illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, establish and carry out treatment plans, give physical exams, suture wounds, assist in surgery, and provide preventive health care counseling. PAs practice with supervision by licensed physicians and provide services that would otherwise be provided by physicians. Approximately 60% of PAs practice primary care medicine, and one-third work in communities with fewer than 50,000 residents. Over 55% of all PAs are women. Contact: American Academy of Physician Assistant Programs http://www.aapa.org.
Information about other allied health careers can be obtained at http://www.explorehealthcareers.org. Dr. Dan Schadler (email@example.com), the Allied Health Career Advisor at Oglethorpe University is prepared to assist you as well.