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ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONS. Judith L Miller, MS, LGC April 2010. History. Explosion of scientific knowledge T he “Age of Biology” Sophisticated and complex medical diagnostics and treatments Result: increased need for expertly trained health care personnel Trends today in medical care

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allied health professions


Judith L Miller, MS, LGC

April 2010

  • Explosion of scientific knowledge
    • The “Age of Biology”
    • Sophisticated and complex medical diagnostics and treatments
  • Result: increased need for expertly trained health care personnel
  • Trends today in medical care
    • Increasing costs
    • Treatment of patients in ambulatory facilities
    • Need for most efficacious and least costly care
allied health professions ahp
Allied Health Professions: AHP
  • Health professionals other than physicians
    • 200 different careers
    • 80 different professions
  • Expertly trained in specialized area
    • Can provide excellent care (advice, help)
    • Cost less than care provided by an MD
categories of ah professionals
Categories of AH Professionals
  • Two broad categories:
    • Technicians and Assistants
      • Typically only up to 2 years education
      • Supervision required
    • **Therapists and Technologists
      • Require graduate education
therapy and technology ahps
“Therapy and Technology” AHPs
  • Job descriptions are quite specialized
  • Practitioners are highly trained and considered experts in their field
  • Work in the AHP:
    • Typically, involves direct or indirect patient care
    • After time (after the person gains and demonstrates expertise) non-traditional jobs are often possible.
partial list of ahp areas careers
Partial list of AHP Areas /Careers
  • Speech-Language pathology
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Radiologic technologist
  • Surgical technologist
  • Physical Therapy
  • Exercise Science (athletic trainer, kinesiologist)
  • Cytotechnology
  • Dietetics
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology
what is genetic counseling
What is Genetic Counseling?

“Helping individuals and families understand how genetics affects their health and lives.”

who are genetic counselors
Who are Genetic Counselors?
  • Health professionals with
    • Specialized graduate degrees
    • Knowledge of medical genetics
    • Counseling skills
    • Expertise in genetic testing
genetics professionals
Genetics Professionals
  • Medical or Clinical Geneticist
    • MD, Primary care residency plus fellowship or residency in Genetics
    • Medical Genetics – a Medical Specialty
    • Diagnose and Treat
  • PhD Geneticist
    • Research
  • Genetic Counselor
    • MS degree
    • Work with patients, consult, order and interpret genetic tests
what do genetic counselors do
What Do Genetic Counselors Do?
  • Provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions
  • Investigate the disorder or condition, interpret test results and information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence, and review available options with the family

Serve as patient advocates

  • Serve as educators and as a
  • resource
      • for other health care professionals
      • for the general public
many career paths clinical
Many Career Paths:CLINICAL
  • Prenatal/Preconception
    • Work with pregnant women, couples planning a pregnancy, couples at risk for having a baby with a genetic condition
  • Pediatric
    • Help parents, families, children, teenagers who have, or are at risk for, genetic conditions such as sickle cell disease, deafness, mental retardation, birth defects
career paths clinical cont
Career Paths: Clinical cont.
  • Adult
    • Counsel people with medical and genetic conditions, or a family history of a condition such as cancer, Huntington disease, Alzheimer disease
  • Cancer Genetics
where do we practice
Where do we practice?
    • Clinics, hospitals, doctor’s practices
    • Academic centers
  • Independent practice
more career paths
More Career Paths
  • Public Health
    • Raise awareness of genetics
    • Improve access to services
    • Outreach services
    • Determine public policy
  • Education
    • Teach in genetic counseling programs, selected programs in colleges and universities
  • Research
    • Serve as liaison between research lab and patients
    • Explore unanswered questions in genetic counseling
more career paths16
More Career Paths
  • Consulting
    • Private Practice
      • Have increased autonomy and flexibility
    • Internet Companies (Direct to Consumer counseling and testing)
      • Develop online products related to genetics
    • Pharmaceuticals
      • Act as corporate resource for genetics expertise
    • Industry/Laboratory
      • Act as a liaison between diagnostic labs, referring physicians, and patients

With Permission:

With Permission:

rewards of genetic counseling
Rewards of Genetic Counseling:
  • Helping others
  • Privilege to work closely with individuals and families on sensitive personal matters
  • Continuing education required
  • Being an expert in your field
  • Reduce Health Disparities
    • Special need to provide genetic counseling services to African-American, Hispanic and other

under served communities

With Permission:

  • Become a genetic counselor in two years after finishing college
  • The average salary for a genetic counselor in IL with 0.5 to 2.5 years experience was reported as $52,225 in 2009
  • Job Satisfaction
      • Combination of genetics and working with people
      • Intellectual challenges of the field
      • Rewards associated with helping people
      • Opportunities for personal growth


the downside
The Downside…
  • Can be emotionally draining
  • Rapid advances in field means constant work to keep current
  • In some cases little chance to advance professionally
  • Jobs vary widely
    • Physicians run the health care world***
    • Autonomy vs little autonomy
to become a genetic counselor
To become a Genetic Counselor
  • Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling
    • Currently about 30 programs in US
  • Graduate programs are intense
    • Course work
    • Clinical rotations
    • Thesis
  • Pass certification exam, maintain certification and skills
  • Be open to relocation
if you are interested in genetic counseling
If You are Interested in Genetic Counseling…
  • Learn about the field:
    • Read about
      • Human genome research and ethical dilemmas
      • Treatments and tests for genetic conditions
    • Obtain / Investigate
      • Information from the National Society of Genetic Counselors
      • Genetic counseling internships
  • Gain experience working with people
    • Volunteer—rape crisis, pregnancy counseling, Special Olympics
    • Be a teaching and/or research assistant
    • Take on leadership roles
  • Obtain recommendations

With permission:

or any allied health profession
…or any Allied Health Profession
  • Develop these skills:
    • Interpersonal communication skills
    • Computer literacy
    • Writing skills
    • Ability to express yourself clearly (to give presentations)
    • Interviewing skills
  • Course work
    • Molecular biology, chemistry, statistics, research
    • Consider psychology, physiology, ethics, human development, anatomy
job outlook
Job Outlook:
  • Many more allied health professionals will be needed in the future
  • Job prospects good!