Role of Allied Health Professionals in COVID-19 and Future Career Prospects


Prof.(Dr.) Rajesh Kumar Sinha, Ph.D.
Deputy Director and Head
Amity Medical School
Amity University Haryana

Today, when the world is facing the most severe healthcare crisis as COVID-19, the healthcare system requires the trained and skilled workforce to manage the physical, mental, social, emotional, and holistic well-being of those who seek acute and chronic medical attention both at the healthcare facility or at home. These workforces are multidisciplinary and include; Doctors, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals, and other Ancillary Supporting Staff, who are directly or indirectly involved in the care of patients with COVID-19. In this multidisciplinary team, the allied health professional role becomes very important and vital in restoring the patients’ health.   

As frontline support, allied health professionals provide diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services, which is critical in treating patients with COVID-19 and improving their quality of life. The allied health professionals include; Medical Laboratory Technologist, Respiratory Therapist, Optometrist, Audiology & Speech-Language Pathologist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Health Information Managers, Health Data Analyst, Clinical Nutritionist, Medical Imaging Technologist, Emergency Medicine Technologist, Perfusion Technologist, Cardiovascular Technologist, etc. 

The ‘allied health professionals’ work with the interdisciplinary team and play a key role in almost all the areas and department of the hospitals such as; outpatient, inpatient, medical imaging, medical lab, therapy areas, ICUs, wards, rehabilitation areas, emergency, and casualty, etc. where the COVID-19 cases are managed. For example, the medical laboratory technologist provides scientific support in diagnosing the case with the clinical laboratory; physiotherapist, occupational therapist and Audiology & Speech-Language Pathologist offer numerous rehabilitation services during and after COVID care; health information managers and health data analyst provide patient data for seamless patient care; medical imaging technologist operates sophisticated diagnostic imaging equipment and generates report require for continuous care; public health professionals contribute for improving public health outcomes; respiratory therapist performs respiratory care modalities in ICUs and take care of patients respiratory dysfunction, clinical nutritionist decide on the diet and suitable food intake for improving the health and immunity of the patient. Likewise, many other allied health professionals with their specialized skills, support the entire healthcare team in treating and restoring the patient’s health, and improving their quality of life.    

In this pandemic situation, many allied health professionals have been subjected to the risk of infection but even then they stood with the patient and provided round the clock services. This indicates dedication and a sense of professionalism and for this reason, only, the allied health professionals are often referred to as the ‘Lifeline in Patient Care’.

The future of the healthcare industry completely lies in the hand of allied health professionals but due to the dearth of the trained and skilled allied health workforce, many hospitals are facing challenges in providing quality healthcare to the patient. This is due to the reason that the number of allied health institutions in India is less and the number of graduates it produces is not sufficient to satisfy the demand of the healthcare industry. The gap can only reduce if the medical institutions can come forward and start allied health programs.

As allied health domain includes a wide range of disciplines, where each discipline is unique and spread across the hospital and healthcare industry and provides an opportunity for prospective students to choose ‘allied health profession’ as a career. The allied health is the only domain where the students, depends on their interest, gets many options to choose, whether to work in hospital, industry, academic institution, research organization, rehabilitation centers, home care, or work as a freelancer. The career graph and the compensation go higher and higher with the achievement of Diploma ? Bachelors ? Masters ? Doctorate with years of experience in delivering quality patient care. 

Last two decades, the country has witnessed an increase in the number of diseases and outbreaks among the population and that has given the rise in the number of hospitals and specialized clinics to reach out to the population and provide quality healthcare. But to do so, they require trained and skilled allied health professionals to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services. The future healthcare job opportunities would be mainly for those who have earned credentials in the allied health domain. The estimate of many professional surveys indicated half of the total healthcare jobs as allied-health jobs. 

Allied health professionals work with care, competence, compassion, excellence, and respect. The aspirants can join this noble profession as their career choice and serve humanity.

Amity Medical School