With more than 500,000 jobs added since the start of the recession, it’s no surprise that allied health fields are forecasted to remain a key source of job growth. Jobs in inpatient and outpatient settings and nurse care facilities will be in high demand and the healthcare support industry (such as medical technicians, physician’s assistants and physical therapist assistants) are slated to experience 48% growth.
Involved with the delivery of health or related services, workers in allied health care fields include a cluster of health professions encompassing as many as 200 health careers. There are 5 million allied health care providers in the United States who work in more than 80 different professions representing approximately 60% of all health care providers. Yet, that number is no match to the number of allied health care workers that are needed to meet current and future needs in America.
Highly regarded as experts in their field, allied health professions fall into two broad categories – technicians (assistants) and therapists/technologists. With education requirements and curriculum varying depending on the chosen field, academic prerequisites range from less than two years for technicians to a more intensive educational process for therapists and technologists that include acquiring procedural skills. With such explosive growth in allied health care career options and so many diverse fields from which to choose, it’s no wonder students preparing for their future are seeking opportunities in allied health fields.
Yet, with more than 5 million current allied health professions in the U.S. and more on the horizon, careful examination of the educational development and environment of emerging students identifies areas of needed improvement to meet the diverse needs of this ever-changing landscape.
A New Path of Education – Trends Affecting Allied Health Education
With student enrollment in allied health education programs gaining momentum, major advancements in technology coupled with shifts in education audiences, learner profiles, campus cultures, campus design and faculty development have spawned a new wave of trends that are dramatically affecting where and how allied health students learn. Understanding the dynamics of allied health trends begins by taking a brief look at a few of the societal and economic factors that have affected the educational landscape as a whole.
* With the economy in a recession, the nations’ workforce is being challenged to learn new skills or explore advanced training options.
* The U.S. Labor Department estimates that with the current economic climate, nearly 40% of the workforce will change jobs every year. As a result, the demand for short, accelerated educational programs is on the rise.
* With retirement being delayed until later in life, a “new age” of workers has emerged into the job market creating an older generation of students.