7 Vital Allied Health Professionals and What They Do

An optimal healthcare experience demands a team approach. And while doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists are crucial, they can’t do it alone. Thankfully, allied health professionals are there to help by providing patients with crucial preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic services. 

Their specialized services help patients with injuries and illnesses feel well-supported during each step of recovery. Let’s take a closer look at seven allied health professions and how they support the field of healthcare.  

Who are Allied Healthcare Professionals? 

Allied health professionals support essential providers, like doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists, in providing patients with comprehensive healthcare services. Their skills and expertise are crucial in helping diagnose, treat, rehabilitate, and support patients recovering from illnesses, injuries, and surgical procedures. 

Despite that, allied health workers don’t always directly work with patients or alongside essential providers. Some of these professionals work behind the scenes and aid in the care process by performing crucial tasks, like sterilizing medical equipment, reading X-rays, and assigning the correct codes to medical bills. 

Allied health is a highly diverse field, with a range of job titles. Here are some more well-known examples you may have heard of: 

7 Examples of Allied Health Professionals 

Even by conservative estimates, allied health professionals make up about 60% of the healthcare workforce in the United States. And the demand for these experts is always growing. In fact, the Bureau of Health Workforce projects that the employment of allied health professionals will likely increase by up to 30% by 2030. 

Because allied health serves as an umbrella term for so many specialties, things like job duties and work environment can greatly differ for each role. While it may not be a comprehensive list, we’ve put together a brief guide that dives into seven popular roles within allied health. Let’s get started. 

Occupational Therapist 

An occupational therapist helps people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses participate in their everyday activities and improve their independence. Through their specialized care services, they assist patients in developing, recovering, or improving the skills needed for work and their daily lives. 

These professionals may work in a hospital setting, in a patient’s home, or at their own practice. As a part of their job duties, they will usually: 

  • Perform an evaluation to determine each patient’s needs 
  • Create an intervention plan with set activities and goals 
  • Help patients learn and perform skill-building activities 
  • Educate family members on how to best support the patient  
  • Recommend special equipment that aids in living independently 

Physician Assistant 

A physician assistant works under the supervision of a primary care doctor, specialist, or surgeon in directly caring for patients. They use their medical expertise to examine, diagnose, and treat patients as needed to help them recover from illnesses, injuries, and surgeries. 

Most of these allied healthcare workers find jobs in clinics, hospitals, and outpatient surgical centers. On any given day, a physician assistant will likely: 

  • Record patients’ symptoms, medical histories, and vital signs  
  • Perform physical examinations of their patients 
  • Use their findings and test results to make accurate diagnoses  
  • Create treatment plans and inform patients about the care process  
  • Prescribe medication and authorize prescription refills 

Respiratory Therapist 

A respiratory therapist provides care to people of all ages who are having trouble breathing. They may work with premature infants who need help developing strong lungs, seniors with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or anyone experiencing a severe respiratory illness. 

Most of these allied health professionals work in state, local, or private hospitals. While moving between the emergency room, intensive care units, and other areas, their job duties are to: 

  • Examine patients who are experiencing breathing problems 
  • Complete diagnostic tests to find the right course of treatment 
  • Perform treatments to clear the airways and improve lung function 
  • Monitor patients on ventilators to keep delivering oxygen at the correct rate  
  • Educate patients and families on how to use medical equipment at home 


Want to learn more about respiratory therapists? Check out our guide to this important role!


Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) 

An emergency medical technician (EMT) works as a first responder and provides lifesaving medical assistance to sick and injured people. Depending on the call, they may need to stabilize the patient, and then provide ongoing aid and monitoring while transporting them to a nearby hospital. 

These skilled professionals work in an ambulance and travel to the scene of car accidents and other emergencies as ordered by the 911 operator. Their job duties will vary with each situation but may include: 

  • Respond to emergencies, ready to act fast and provide medical assistance  
  • Perform CPR and first aid as needed to stabilize the patients on the scene  
  • Assess the patient’s condition and determine how to best provide ongoing care 
  • Monitor vital signs and keep the care process going while in route to the hospital  
  • Report all their observations to the healthcare staff at the receiving medical center 

Dental Hygienist 

A dental hygienist assists dentists in providing patients with preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental care services. They directly perform many dental care procedures, including teeth cleanings and x-rays, while keeping patients informed about what to expect. 

Most dental hygienists are employed part-time in one or more private dental care clinics. On their workdays, they usually need to perform any or all of these duties: 

  • Examine patients for any signs of tooth decay or oral diseases  
  • Perform teeth cleanings to remove plaque and stains 
  • Take dental X-rays and prepare them for review by the dentist  
  • Help patients understand the diagnosis and treatment plan  
  • Educate patients on the best ways to maintain their oral health 

Physical Therapist 

A physical therapist assists patients in improving their movement, range of motion, and mobility while managing their pain levels. Typically, they work with people who have lost their ability to move freely due to chronic health conditions, acute injuries, or illnesses. 

Most physical therapists work in a dedicated clinic, although it’s also possible to find jobs at hospitals and residential care facilities. Their daily job duties are likely to: 

  • Evaluate each patient’s movement, mobility, and range of motion 
  • Create a treatment plan that restores movement and decreases pain 
  • Use hands-on therapy, equipment, and exercises to help patients heal 
  • Provide patients with at-home stretches and exercises for further healing 
  • Review the patient’s progress in reaching goals and adjust treatments as needed 


An audiologist examines, diagnoses, and treats patients experiencing hearing loss, balance issues, and other related problems. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, they may help patients make a full recovery or cope with their condition by using hearing aids or cochlear implants. 

Many audiologists work in a private doctor’s office, hospital, or physical, occupational, and speech therapy clinic. As a part of their job duties, they may need to: 

  • Examine patients who are having trouble hearing or maintaining their balance  
  • Diagnose acute and chronic conditions affecting the inner, outer, and middle ear  
  • Create a treatment plan that aligns with the patient’s care preferences and goals  
  • Fit hearing aids or work with surgeons skilled in placing cochlear implants 
  • Educate patients and their families on how to best cope with the hearing difficulties 

Do You Need New Allied Professionals? 

Allied health professionals play a critical role in the healthcare industry by providing essential services that support patient care and overall wellness. From diagnosing and treating injuries to managing chronic conditions, these individuals partner with physicians and other providers to ensure patients receive comprehensive and effective care. 

If you need to add a highly skilled allied health professional to your team, we can help you find them. Fill out the form below to get started. 

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