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Allied health professions

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The Allied health professions are those clinical healthcare professions distinct from the medical profession and nursing profession. As the name implies, they are all allies in the healthcare team, working together to make the healthcare system function.

Depending on the country and local healthcare system, some of the following professions may be represented: athletic training, bioengineering, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, electrocardiographic technicians, hemodialysis technicians, laboratory technicians, medical assistants , medical coders and billers, medical secretaries, medical technology, nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, phlebotomy, kinesiotherapy, physical therapy, physician's assistants, radiography, respiratory therapy, and speech therapy. They all belong to the ever growing group of allied health professionals and their subspecialties. The precise titles and roles in the allied health professions vary considerably from country to country.

The explosion of scientific knowledge that followed World War II brought increasingly sophisticated and complex diagnostic and treatment procedures to the science of medicine. In addition, increasing medical and healthcare costs have created a trend away from treating patients in hospitals toward the provision of care in physician's private and group practices, and ambulatory medical and emergency clinics. What followed was an increase in the need for expertly trained healthcare delivery personnel.

As their job descriptions become more specialised, they must adhere to national training and education standards, their professional scope of practice, and often prove their skills through diplomas, certified credentials, and continuing education. Members of the allied health professions must be proficient in the use of many skills. Some of which are medical terminology, acronym and spelling, basics of medical law and ethics, understanding of human relations, interpersonal communication skills, counseling skills, computer literacy, ability to document healthcare information, interviewing skills, and proficiency in word processing, database management and electronic dictation.

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