Finding your niche: Careers in allied healthcare

February 9, 2016

allied healthcare

Many people who want to work in healthcare choose to be doctors, nurses, dentists or midwives. But those paths may not be for everyone; there are many types of allied health jobs that may match your personality, interests and goals. Consider some of the following allied health careers:


Several different types of allied health careers involve providing therapy to improve a patient’s level of functioning. For instance, physical therapists work with patients to increase their range of motion, improve balance and decrease pain. They may also work with patients who have serious injuries and need to learn to stand and walk again.

Respiratory therapists also provide therapy to patients who have various conditions which interfere with their ability to breathe adequately. Therapists may administer medications, perform chest physiotherapy and cough assist.

Another option in allied health is working as a recreational therapist. Recreational therapists work with patients who have various injuries and conditions that cause impairments. Therapists use leisure activities, such as games, art, and music to improve the patient’s functioning.

Depending on which type of therapy job you are interested in, educational program may vary. Respiratory therapy programs are two to four years. Students entering the field of physical therapy will now be required to have a doctorate. While recreational therapists can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree.


Allied health jobs also include various types of specialist technicians. For example, sonographers use ultrasound machines to create images of different organs. The images help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.

X-ray technicians are also members of the allied health team. Technicians utilize x-ray machines to take pictures of various structures in the body, which assist doctors in diagnosing a patient’s injury or condition. Both ultrasound and x-ray techs work in hospitals and imaging centers. Educational programs for both professions usually take two years to complete.

Surgical technology is another opportunity for those interested in working in healthcare. Most surgical tech programs can be completed in a year or two. Surgical technicians prepare both the patients and the operating room for surgery. They may also assist the doctor by handing instruments during procedures.

If you’re looking for a job in allied health you can get started in quickly; phlebotomy may be a good option. Phlebotomy programs can usually be completed in a year. Phlebotomists draw blood, which is needed to check for various diseases and infections.


Another option for people interested in working in an allied health job is to become an aide. There are different types of aides including physical and occupational therapy aides. Both types of aides assist therapists in working with patients. Although their responsibilities will differ from the therapist, they still have a chance to care for patients and make a difference. One advantage of becoming an occupational or physical therapy aide is that it takes less time to complete the required education. Most occupational and physical therapy aide programs take two years to complete.

Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and physician assistants – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.