The Future of Allied Health

by Howard Gerber on November 5, 2018

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allied health futureMedicine and the medical field continually evolve. Emerging technology, as well as the changing needs of society, causes shifts in the medical field. The allied health field is one area that is experiencing rapid growth and other changes.

What are the Employment Projections?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in allied health are expected to grow by about 18% through the year 2026. The BLS estimates that the average employment growth for all occupations is about seven percent. Allied health is projected to have more than double the growth of other occupations.

The projected job growth varies by specific occupation within allied health. Certain fields, such as respiratory therapists, are predicted to grow at rates close to 23%.

The top employers of allied health professionals are predicted to be hospitals. But jobs should also be plentiful at skilled nursing facilities and outpatient care centers, such as urgent care clinics.

Why the Need?

According to some employment research, it is clear allied health is a continually growing field. A few factors are contributing to job growth including the following:

People are Living Longer

Advances in treatment have increased the life expectancy, which means people are living longer. In 1990, the average life expectancy was 71 years old. Today the life expectancy is about 78. Deaths from cancer have dropped, and continued research and clinical trials may improve prognosis even further. People that once died after an illness, such as a stroke, are surviving more often, which creates the need for more allied health workers, such as occupational and physical therapists.

Technological Advances are Creating Specialties

Technology, such as electronic medical records and robotic surgery, creates new specialties within the field of allied health. It’s likely that additional specialties will emerge in the years ahead.

Physician Shortage

The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts there will be a shortage of doctors within the next ten years. Due to the shortage, physician assistants will be in demand. Physician assistants can perform a lot of the same duties as doctors and are often more cost effective.

Cost-Cutting Measures

Many healthcare facilities are developing ways to reduce costs. Cost-cutting measures may be needed due to a decrease in reimbursement from insurance companies and changing Medicare guidelines. Facilities may hire allied health workers that are more cost-effective than a nurse or doctor.

Types of Careers

There are dozens of allied health careers. Some of the jobs that are predicted to be in demand include:

  • Physical assistants
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Physical therapy assistants
  • Ultrasound technicians
  • Surgical technicians
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Medical assistants

The education required to work in allied health can be as quick as one semester or as long as four years. Salaries also vary widely depending on what allied health field you go into and the part of the country you live. With the projected growth, allied health may be a good career option for people interested in the medical field.

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