Doctors, nurses and dentists are often the face of health care, but they represent only a minority of its workers. Allied health professionals make up more than 60 percent of the health workforce, often working behind the scenes to provide patients with high-quality care.
There's the pharmacy assistant who makes sure you get the right type and dosage of medication; the radiological technician who takes and develops your x-rays; and clinical laboratory scientists who test your blood so doctors can diagnose and treat what ails you.
These are just some of the approximately 50 different allied health positions. Often working as part of a health care team, allied health workers provide various diagnostic, technical, therapeutic and direct patient care and support services in hospitals, clinics, private practices, in-home services, long-term care facilities and nearly anywhere else where health care happens.
These positions are not only vital to patient care; they also represent tremendous opportunities for jobseekers. The health field is one of the most stable, growing sectors in the California economy, and well-paying jobs are within reach with only a few months or years of training.
Allied health professionals are also typically more diverse and representative of the patient populations they serve than other medical workers, which can translate to more culturally aware care.
But while projected openings in these fields mean good news for jobseekers, there is growing concern about talent shortages expected in many of these professions and the ensuing impact on our economy and health care system. Fortunately, there are some solutions that provide hope.