Most people having even a vague familiarity with healthcare know that this field reaches far beyond the traditional doctor’s clinic to provide care across borders. And given the multitude of career options available, it can be challenging for future aspirants to pick one they’re genuinely passionate about. A straightforward way to decide is dividing healthcare into medicine and allied health. You can imagine them as two diverging paths that meet at the end to achieve the same goal of quality patient care. Allied health and medicine are two sides of the same coin that work side-by-side to improve the efficiency and convenience of public health. Are you still confused? Let’s go over the basics differences between the two fields for more clarity:
Defining Allied Health
For starters, allied health includes diverse careers that support the healthcare systems in several health settings. Although everyone in this field is a healthcare employee, they stand differentiated from doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and nurses. These individuals might have roles focusing on health promotion, nutrition, and disease or disorder analyses. Besides, allied health also involves duties concerning health system management and patient rehabilitation.
Defining Medicine And Nursing
Contrarily, medicine contributes towards diagnosing and curing injuries/illnesses. If one chooses a career in medicine, they’ll most likely get employed in general health, pharmacy, or dentistry.
Moreover, one must hold a medical degree to start working in this field. Whereas for jobs in allied health, most accredited online allied health programs can provide a sufficient level of education. Once that’s done, you can be on your way to becoming a doctor, nurse, dentist, or pharmacist.
Key Differences Between Medicine And Allied Healthcare
Now for the crux of the matter. Medicine primarily focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of different illnesses. It hosts excellent opportunities for cross-training and improving knowledge about methods of diagnosing and curing illness and injury.
On the other hand, allied health is a broad term encompassing a wide range of healthcare personnel, excluding doctors and nurses. It mainly focuses on recovery and prevention approaches, requiring specialized knowledge and training. Due to this knowledge, allied health workers can act in more specific roles as caretakers of public health.
Professionals in allied health contribute to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various illnesses and ailments. If one chooses this career, they’ll be working alongside a multidisciplinary team of professionals for improved patient outcomes.
You can find allied health workers across most sectors and branches of healthcare. But, areas like chronic illnesses, mental disorders, musculoskeletal health, disability, elder care, exercise, and rehab tend to be more saturated with these professionals.
A stark difference between the two fields is that careers in medicine often necessitate several years of rigorous education and advanced degrees. Comparatively, allied health has fewer educational requirements for beginner positions. Given the diversity among the field’s professionals, training comes in various levels and forms. Besides the required post-graduate study and continuing professional development, specialized jobs may require more extensive training than the rest. Yet, most positions only demand tertiary study for starting practice.
Once they finish collecting their academic credentials, allied health professionals can join local/national associations exclusive to this field. These organizations have been on-ground advocates and supporters of allied health professionals, many of them holding national recognition.
Plus, almost all allied health practitioners need a practice license and registration from the relevant regulatory authority.
Places Of Employment
Following are just a few of the varied work settings for allied health professionals:
- Community health centers
- Mental health facilities
- Private clinics
- Schools, colleges, universities
Careers In Allied Healthcare
Did you know that allied health comprises 60% of all healthcare professions? What’s more, allied health offers almost 55 careers in a wide range of settings, including but not limited to :
Pharmacist – Manufacture, prepare, and dispense medicines. Pharmacists also guide the proper use of medication.
Social Worker –Counsel and advise people to cope with individual and social issues. Social workers may advocate for patient’s health through community initiatives and other programs.
Medical Imaging Professionals–Personnels can be radiographers, radiologists, and sonographers.
Nutritionists/Dieticians– Provide nutritional advice for managing weight, medical conditions, and overall wellness.
Occupational Therapist – Help chronically ill or differently-abled individuals maintain and improve life and work skills.
Audiologist – Diagnose, treat, prevent balance disorders and hearing impairments.
Exercise Physiologist – Provide therapy and rehabilitation to chronically ill, disabled, and injured patients using exercise.
Chiropractor – Cure and diagnose mechanical and physiological and disorders focusing on the musculoskeletal system.
Podiatrist – Diagnose and treat feet and lower limb dysfunctionalities.
Physiotherapist – Prevent, diagnose, and manage movement injuries and disorders.
Psychologist – Study, assess, and treat mental and behavioral disorders.
Range Of Allied Healthcare
Given the extensive range of services they provide to the public, one may need to access allied health professionals in multiple health situations. With private insurance, most patients can directly access these services. Still, some government-funded services might ask patients for a general physician’s referral before giving the green light.
Aspiring health professionals seem perplexed when it comes to choosing a career path in the medical field. This article provided some fundamental insights into allied healthcare and how it compares to general medicine to clear some fog from the topic. These may include educational requirements, work settings, and professional duties. Regardless of the differences in the two fields, both complement each other to deliver quality care and improve patient outcomes.