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What is Allied Health?

Allied health professionals
Photo: What is Allied Health?
Allied Health is a term used to describe the broad range of health professionals who are not doctors, dentists or nurses.  

Allied health professionals aim to prevent, diagnose and treat a range of conditions and illnesses and often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide the best patient outcomes.

Whilst allied health professionals are prevelent in almost all branches of healthcare, some of the more common sectors where you will see allied health professionals are in aged care, chronic disease, disability, mental health, exercise and sport, rehabilitative care and muskuloskeletal health. 

Allied health professionals work across a variety of settings including but not limited to:

  • Hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Community health centres
  • Mental health services
  • Care homes
  • Universities
  • Schools
Allied health professionals represent almost a third of the Australian health workforce. Over 183,000 allied health professionals registered with APHRA in 2017/18, an 3.5% increase from 2016/17, and the industry is continuing to experience significant growth.

There are many professions which are classified as Allied Health, including but not limited to:

  • Audiologist – Assessment, treatment and prevention of hearing and balance disorders.
     
  • Chiropractor – Diagnose and treat physiological and mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
     
  • Dietitian – Advises patients on nutrition for health, weight management or for specific medical conditions.
     
  • Exercise Physiologist – Focuses on therapy and rehabilitation of injury, chronic disease and disability through exercise.
     
  • Medical Imaging Professionals – Including radiographers, sonographers and radiologists.
     
  • Occupational Therapist – Assist people with illness or disability to develop or maintain daily living and work skills.
     
  • Osteopath – Works with manipulation of the musculoskeletal system to treat and prevent injury.
     
  • Orthotist – Prescribe, design and fit braces and other devices to aid mobility and rehabilitation, correct deformity and relieve discomfort.
     
  • Perfusionist – Operates a range of machinery during surgery (and in ICU) to monitor a patients physiological status.
     
  • Pharmacist – Prepare, dispense and manufacture medicines and advise on their appropriate use. Pharmacists may also work in a research capacity.
     
  • Physiotherapist – Focuses on the diagnosis, management and prevention of movement disorders and injury.
     
  • Podiatrist – Treats conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
     
  • Psychologist – Studies, treats and evaluates mental and behavioural processes.
     
  • Social Worker – Helps people deal with personal and social issues through counselling, community engagement, advocacy and various programmes.
     
  • Speech Pathologist – Assess and treat patients who have a communication disability. Speech pathologists may also work with patients who have trouble swallowing.
     
Click here to see a full list of Allied Health professions

Access to Allied Health services

Allied health professionals offer a wide range of health services to Australian's, which means that there are various situations where you might need to acess those services.

Many allied health services can be accessed directly by a patient with private health insurance without a referral. However, some government funded programs and services may require a referral from a general practitioner. 

Some programs and schemes that can assist people with the cost of accessing allied health services include:


Education

The diverse nature of this group of professionals means the training requirements vary greatly however most professions require tertiary study to practice in Australia. Some Allied Health professions are more specialised than others and can require extensive training including postgraduate study and ongoing CPD (continuing professional development).

Many allied health professionals, once qualified, become members of Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA). AHPA work hard to represent, support and advocate for Australian allied health professionals as a nationally recognised board. 

Almost all allied health practitioners must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to practise in Australia (AHPRA).

Click here to visit our Allied Health practice hub

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