Exploring The Different Allied Medical Professions

January 9, 2015

Gap Medics students with their mentor at Iringa Regional Hospital in Tanzania. Doctors and other mainstream healthcare specialists are the core professionals of the medical field. However, there are numerous other healthcare professionals that work parallel to the ones mentioned above and play an equally important role. They are referred to as Allied Medical Professions and their role in healthcare services cannot go without a mention. Those who work in these fields generally have to work directly with patients. They are responsible for delivering a variety of healthcare services. Here’s a brief look at these different professions and the role they play in health care:

  • Pharmacy Technician- Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist. They are generally responsible for assisting pharmacists with numerous related tasks from filling out patients’ prescriptions to compounding medication. To become a pharmacy technician you have to complete a community college degree or vocational program before you can actually practice. Though this is not a requirement, most pharmacy technicians have a certification from the ICPT- Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
  • Occupational Therapist- An occupational therapist deals with people who have physical, mental or social disabilities. They recommend various strategies that help them carry out everyday occupations or tasks. Occupational therapists work with adults and children of all ages. These individuals might have had difficulties since birth or due to an accident, ageing, illness or lifestyle.
  • Surgical Technologist– Surgical technologists are also called operating room technicians. A surgical technologist assists in surgical operations. They prepare the operating room for surgery; sterilize and supply the equipment; prepare a patient for surgery. They wash incision sites and assist surgeons and nurses over the course of the surgery by handing them instruments as well as other sterile supplies. 
  • Medical Technologist- A medical technologist is an allied health professional who is responsible for analysing human body fluids, including urine and blood. They use the latest laboratory techniques to test for presence of bacteria and other microorganisms. To be employed as a medical technologist you will have to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in the Medical Technology field.
  • Respiratory Therapist- In general, a respiratory therapist assists patients who are suffering from breathing-related conditions. These might range from not too complicated, short-term conditions such as bronchitis to severe chronic conditions such as asthma and emphysema. They might also include certain traumatic conditions such as myocardial infarction and other cardio-pulmonary conditions.
  • Radiologic Technologist- A radiologic technologist captures and develops x-rays of various human body parts. They prepare patients for x-rays and prevent any unnecessary exposure to radiation. A radiologic technologist will typically have an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in this field. 
  • Dental Hygienist– A dental hygienist is in charge of scheduling patient appointments. He/she will maintain patient records and help dentists with the procedures. They also process x-rays and sterilize all the dental equipment

All of these professionals are critical to the medical field. They ensure that doctors, dentists and nurses are able to perform their roles in a seamless manner thus providing patients with the best possible care.