Allied Health Professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation, and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management; among others.
Many professions are included under this umbrella, including dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists. http://www.asahp.org/definition.htm
There are approximately 5 million allied healthcare providers in the U.S., who work in more than 80 different professions and represent approximately 60% of all healthcare providers. http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/Field/1/Allied_Health_Professions.
The allied health professions generally fall into two categories: technicians (assistants) and therapists/technologists.
Technicians are trained to perform procedures and are required to work under the supervision of technologists or therapists. This part of the allied health field includes physical therapy assistants, medical laboratory technicians, radiological technicians, occupational therapy assistants, recreation therapy assistants, and respiratory therapy technicians. Id.
The educational process for therapists or technologists is more intensive and includes acquiring procedural skills. In addition, students of therapy/technology learn to evaluate patients, diagnose conditions, develop treatment plans, and understand the rationale behind various treatments in order to judge their appropriateness and potential side effects. Educational curricula teach students to evaluate patients’ responses to therapy and make appropriate decisions about continued treatment or modification of treatment plans. Id.