Allied Health professionals (AHPs)

Allied Health professionals (AHPs)

Allied Health professionals (AHPs) are physicians of healthcare. They are however different from pharmacy, medicine, and nursing. They operate in the medical care profession to give different diagnostics therapeutic and direct patient care, and technical directions which work to assist support services that ensure other healthcare providers can effectively provide services to individuals both in the in and out-patient system. In 2012, the Organization of International Chief Health Professionals (ICHPO) unanimously agreed on one definition that would be used to describe allied healthcare professionals. Based on this body, APHs are a special team of individuals who use their professions to diagnose and rehabilitate individuals and prevent the transmission of illnesses among people of all ages and gender. Along with various support and technical staff, AHPs can deliver rehabilitation treatment, healthcare improvement strategies, and direct patient care. The ICHPO is a group of officers who have both professional and policy administration role for AHPs and are in support for the exchange of understanding and knowledge related to healthcare among its members who operate in Northern Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and England among other nations. This paper seeks to provide the proper definition of allied health personnel and professional development, other aspects related to the topic including diversity and culture, legal and ethical issues, current trends in healthcare, and assessment of allied healthcare education.

Many allied healthcare individuals are more professionals compared to others. They, therefore, should comply with national education and training standards based on their scope of practice. In many cases, they have to prove their proficiency using diplomas and degrees, continuing education, and certified credentials. In the case of other allied healthcare professionals, they do not need to have specific educational credentials or training. Nonetheless, their employers provide the required education through training through on the job experience. This would, however, lead them not to be considered as allied healthcare professionals. Additionally, most allied healthcare employment opportunities are viewed as career ladders since the profession provides ample opportunities to advance in terms of knowledge and related experience in various fields. AHPs incorporate the application of many skills.  Based on these professions, they may include acronyms, medical terminologies, basic life support strategies, different ethical and medical laws, counseling, and computer-based skills among many others. After World War II, investigations into scientific knowledge led to the establishment of advanced and more sophisticated medication diagnostics. The rising demand by the public for higher healthcare costs along with better medical services led to the expansion of medical service delivery led to better delivery of healthcare in group and physicians’ private practices, community-based practices, and emergency and mobile clinics. In the advancing world, global development assistance led to many initiatives for enhancing the health workforce and the ability to provide crucial health care services. The desire for increased healthcare delivery of services among personnel worldwide is what has followed after these advancements.

Advancements in the health industry and focus on cost-efficient solutions to medical care delivery will continue to encourage the improvement of the allied healthcare workforce. Based on statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a shortage of more than two million AHPs.  In realizing the improvements of diversities and numbers of AHPs in recent decades, the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) version of 2008 raised the number of AHPs groups dedicated to healthcare provision. Based on the skill level associated with these individuals, they can be identified as health associated professionals or health professionals. For instance, there has been the establishment of new categories thereby differentiating paramedical practitioners into distinct groups like clinical associates, physician assistants, community health workers, and physician assistants. Research in the USA and other nations has indicated a shortage of qualified employees for many AHP positions. This remains so, mainly because of the expansion of the medical care industry, retirement of many healthcare professionals, and demographic changes. Moreover, the lack of sufficient investment and the desire by the healthcare industry to be cost-effective and the inability to keep up with current trends has also caused the low number of AHPs. Moreover, this research has also indicated that the desire for increased diversity in the AHP workforce to determine a culturally competent health system in the USA. Anticipations from the healthcare experts indicate that medical services will be delivered less in hospitals and more in the nursing and ambulatory care mechanisms. Based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the healthcare system comprises of four main sectors which are categorized depending on the type of service provided in each facility.

  1. Ambulatory health care- these settings give healthcare services to outpatients in places such as outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices, and laboratories.
  2. Nursing and residential care facilities- these settings give community care for mental health, substance abuse victims, and the elderly.
  3. Hospitals- these facilities provide inpatient medical services and will also offer services to outpatients as a secondary activity.
  4. Social assistance- these services are mainly to help the disabled and the elderly in society. Moreover, mental rehabilitation and child care services are also included in this category.

Best practice in allied healthcare has proven crucial in the achievement of success among these individuals.  Moreover, it goes a long way in ensuring they deliver quality services, balancing time, and the reaping of great rewards. Nonetheless, successful AHPS have to have several key factors which will enable them to establish themselves in their profession. Success in the AHP profession is based more on practice rather than personal delivery. This is because it includes more than just being able to provide adequate services. The roles of AHPs also include record keeping and administration. Based on research from the HCPC, healthcare professionals are responsible for ensuring there is effective communication between them and the people they are treating. AHPs apply contact as a significant tool in the effective delivery of services.  This allows these professionals to gather data, perform diagnostics, rehabilitate, and counsel, thereby establishing a useful therapeutic connection with the patients. AHPs that apply effective communication in the delivery of services to patients can improve the overall conditions and satisfaction of their patients. Nonetheless, when personal or sensitive issues arise during effective communication, AHPs can recognize this early and practice avoidance models before the situation gets out of hand. It is however important not to shy away from sensitive issues affecting the patient. This is because it may lead to them missing crucial data regarding the condition and possible mechanisms that may be applied to solve them. In the in-training service for AHPs, professionals are educated on how to enhance the practical communication skills that enable them to deal with difficult issues that may arise. This involves understanding three key issues which are benefits, barriers, and the appropriate techniques associated with effective communication.

Proper interactions with both the patient and working staff are a crucial factor in the personal and professional development of AHPs. First, it allows the effective delivery of services at different capacities. Communicating with the patient allows the professional to determine the issue at hand. Moreover, additional information like experience with the condition can also be obtained from interacting with the individuals. With this amount of data, AHPs can decide the best possible treatments for the patient. At a personal level, this gives the AHP satisfaction for being able to assist in the improvement of patients’ conditions. Professionally, they gain more experience on the best way to handle emerging issues and develop contingency plans for emergencies.  Secondly, effective communication ensures proper interaction among AHPs. In any organization, proper interaction among the employees is crucial to the achievement of set goals within the organization. Through adequate communication among the AHPs, there is adequate service delivery, teamwork, effective decision making, and the subsequent improvement in the conditions of these patients. For instance, in a mental institution capacity, AHPs need to communicate effectively to plan schedules, administer treatment, and counsel patients. All these activities are a significant determinant of how fast the victims will recover from their illnesses.

Despite more emphasis put on the need and benefits of effective communication among healthcare professionals, different factors continue to hinder the proper delivery of medical services to patients. These issues include cultural diversity, sub-specialization, and expanding healthcare technologies. It is essential to establish cultural competency skills that will ensure that diversity in the healthcare sector does not affect the delivery of services among AHPs. Every individual has their definition of culture and diversity. The way an individual establishes his or her view about the two terminologies is crucial in how they operate within different settings. Changes to the economics and demographics in the healthcare system have a role to play in cultural diversity as a hindrance to the effective delivery of healthcare. In their training, AHPs have been educated on how best to deal with these disparities thereby overcoming them as a barrier to service delivery. Moreover, they also enable AHPS to develop their professions on a personal and professional basis. Several strategies have been incorporated to ensure AHPs effectively deal with cultural barriers. The first thing is to understand that people are born and raised differently. Simply put, different people have different traditional backgrounds. While treating a patient, AHPs are trained on the essence of learning more about the patients’ cultures. This ensures that there are no offences committed during treatment. For instance, a patient whose tradition value herbs compared to modern forms of medicine may be unwilling to engage in the treatment. The AHP must take time to explain how effective the medication will be and seek permission to administer it. Additionally, during prescriptions, the AHPs need to learn about the religious and cultural beliefs about foods among the patients. Secondly, it is essential to respect people’s cultures regardless of the views and opinions one has about them. AHPs should understand that just as they want their traditions respected, they should take time to respect those of others. This can however only be achieved through effective communication with patients and colleagues. This way, the AJPs get to learn more about other individuals’ beliefs and can teach those of their own. It is, however, important to put the patients’ needs first and do all it takes to improve their conditions.  Although this raises ethical issues, AHPs understand that the patient is the priority. Personal development of AHPs careers in cultural diversity occurs as they become better people who understand and appreciate that everyone is unique in their way. Professionally, AHPs get to increase their scope of awareness regarding different cultures and how best to handle these situations when they arise. Moreover, there is mutual respect which translates to effective communication, leading to proper decision making, and eventually better service delivery.

EHPs make up a significant number of the whole healthcare workforce in the country. With the innovation and changing trends within the healthcare system, AHPs are constantly reminded to remain aware of the bioethical dilemmas that exist or emerge during the delivery of healthcare. At work, many legal and ethical factors guide the operations that take place in hospitals and other healthcare delivery centers. These issues range from teamwork, professional judgment, documentation, and confidentiality. It is important to note that healthcare practitioners operate on a strict legal and ethical code of conduct that guides the actions and decisions they make daily. AHPs understand the essence of remaining in line with these established policies. The laws of the country depict that practitioners are not to disclose patients’ conditions to third parties without the individual’s permission. Legally, the AHP is liable to federal prosecution if found liable. Ethically, disclosing patient information is wrong and makes the AHP liable to lose their license to practice. Thus, AHPs are trained on the essence of confidentiality between them and the patients. It is also essential to follow legal procedures during treatment like fully disclosing the patients’ illnesses and documenting them. Individuals have a right to know what they are suffering from. They should be educated on the associated risks and the best forms of treatment. Lastly, AHPs are also trained on the essence of teamwork during treatment. At times, they may be required to make hasty decisions that could save a patient. Most of the choices made at the time are ethically wrong but result in improved conditions of the patient. It is therefore essential to consult colleagues before making the final decision. Ethical and legal issues exist in every operational setting. AHPs are trained to remain in line with these factors as they are crucial in their careers. Personally, remaining in line with legal and ethical factors allows effective delivery of services to the patients. Professionally, it ensures that AHPs do not find themselves on the wrong side of the law as it could mean prosecution, and loss of practitioner licenses.

Advancements in technology have led to trends in the healthcare system. This innovation is geared to help in improving the delivery of medical services. In recent years, different inventions have led to the development of effective machinery used in operating rooms and minor surgical procedures. Moreover, the demand for more qualified practitioners is on the rise; all this aimed at improving the delivery of healthcare. AHPs are trained to deal with these trends as they change. In their line of profession, AHPs can easily go back to school and increase their knowledge and improve their service delivery techniques. Additionally, training can be done to teach them on how to handle different machines that continue to be invented. In the AHP department, it is essential to remain ready to tackle the changing trends of the healthcare sector. This will ensure the effective delivery of services, and an improvement of skills necessary in this line of work.

In conclusion, allied healthcare professionals are a distinct group of practitioners different from nurses and other physicians. Various changes in the healthcare system have led to a reduction in the number of AHPs. It is vital to find lasting solutions to increase the number of these critical professionals in the healthcare sector. Effective communication remains to be an essential factor in the delivery of medical assistance. AHPs have been trained on the importance of proper interactions with both the patients and colleagues at work. This leads to a better collection of patient data, along with proper teamwork through deliberations among colleagues. It is essential that AHPs understand and utilize active communication skill as it plays a significant role in service delivery. Cultural diversity remains to be a barrier to healthcare delivery. AHPs have also been trained to deal with these disparities. It is essential to now that every person is different in their way. Thus, AHPs have been trained on the importance of taking time to learn and respect other people’s traditions. Lastly, ethical and legal issues along with trends in the healthcare system are key factors to look out for. It is essential to remain in line with legal and ethical conducts as it ensures the individuals avoid federal prosecution and the loss of their licenses. Moreover, it allows them to learn about current changes thereby improving the overall healthcare system.