How do I Choose the Best Allied Health Program?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2018
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Allied health careers encompass many different choices from veterinary or surgical technicians to medical or dental assistants to physical therapist, physical therapist assistants or massage therapists. In order to choose the right allied health program, first you must consider your interests. Since there are over 100 allied health career options, with schooling ranging from two to seven years, determining your budget for school and the amount of time you can allocate for education are also important factors when deciding on an allied health program.

Whether providing patient care directly or indirectly, skilled allied health professionals work side-by-side other health care professionals. Some work within a health care team while others work independently. Over 60% of health care professionals are allied health professionals.

Allied health careers are broken down into two main categories – therapists or technologists, and technicians or assistants. In an allied health program, the technician requires two years or less for training and education. These professionals, usually certified or licensed, typically assist technologists, therapists, physicians or nurses, and require some form of supervision to carry out tasks.

Therapists and technologists, on the other hand, can typically work independently so would require more extensive training. Since therapists and technologists evaluate, develop treatment plans, and in some instances diagnose, an additional two to five years of education and training is often necessary. Some therapists, such as the massage therapist, do not require the additional years of training and education. These professionals also require either certification or licensure.


Since there is such diversity in each allied health program, you should research prospective schools. The allied health program you chose should be provided by a CCAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Education Programs) accredited school. Though not mandatory for some allied health careers, attending an accredited school assures that the quality of education received and the quality of educators teaching meet with the standards for the health care profession. Accreditation also assures that the institutions and the professionals you may work with in the future that you are qualified for the caliber of work and standards set. Accredited allied health programs also assure you to be eligible to sit for any certification or licensing exams that may be necessary to practice in the chosen profession.

The typical venue for an allied health program is a traditional college setting. Many do offer financial aid. However, there are online programs available, but only a select few are CCAHEP accredited. There are also some professions, such as massage therapy, in which it is unwise to attend an online school, as hands-on practice is vital to your success. It is a good idea to perform extensive research and weigh options carefully before deciding on the best allied health program that will fulfill your career choice.



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