Allied Health Education Trends – The Changing Landscape Behind the Scenes

With more than 500,000 jobs added since the start of the recession, it's no surprise that allied health fields are foreseen to remain a key source of job growth. Jobs in inpatient and outpatient settings and nurse care facilities will be in high demand and the healthcare support industry (such as medical technicians, physician's assistants and physical therapist assistants) are slated to experience 48% growth.

Involved with the delivery of health or related services, workers in allied health care fields include a cluster of health professions encompassing as many as 200 health carers. There are 5 million allied health care providers in the United States who work in more than 80 different professions representing approximately 60% of all health care providers. Yet, that number is no match to the number of allied health care workers that are needed to meet current and future needs in America.

Highly regarded as experts in their field, allied health professions fall into two broad categories – technicians (assistants) and therapists / technologists. With education requirements and curriculum varying depending on the chosen field, academic prerequisites range from less than two years for technicians to a more intensive educational process for therapists and technologists that include acquiring procedural skills. With such explosive growth in allied health care career options and so many diverse fields from which to choose, it's no wonder students preparing for their future are seeking opportunities in allied health fields.

Yet, with more than 5 million current allied health professions in the US and more on the horizon, careful examination of the educational development and environment of emerging students identified areas of needed improvement to meet the diverse needs of this ever-changing landscape.

A New Path of Education – Trends Affecting Allied Health Education

With student enrollment in allied health education programs gaining momentum, major advances in technology coupled with shifts in education audiences, learner profiles, campus cultures, campus design and faculty development have spawned a new wave of trends that are dramatically affecting where and how allied health students learn. Understanding the dynamics of allied health trends begins by taking a brief look at a few of the societal and economic factors that have affected the educational landscape as a whole.

Economic Trends:
* With the economy in a recession, the nations' workforce is being challenged to learn new skills or explore advanced training options.
* The US Labor Department estimates that with the current economic climate, nearly 40% of the work will change jobs every year. As a result, the demand for short, accelerated educational programs is on the rise.
* With retirement being delayed until later in life, a "new age" of workers has emerged into the job market creating an older generation of students.

Societal Trends:
* Adult learners are the fastest growing segment in higher education. Approximately 42% of all students in both private and public institutions are age 25 or older.
* This highly competitive learning market allows educational institutions to specialize in meeting particular niches …

10 Reasons Adults Go Back to School

Over two million adult Americans go to school every year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. People start or return to school for many reasons. The following list is a sampling.

1) To learn more about a hobby or an interest. Do you long to play golf? Have you always wanted to learn write, knit or play the guitar? Then maybe adult education classes are for you. These classes could be offered through a university or college extension program or through a church or community center, or they may be at a place of higher education for credit. Participating in a class or two can teach you something new or how to do something with more skill than you already possess. And if you take a class for credit–say, European History to help with your genealogy project–you might find the basis of an education that leads to a second career.

2) To learn a foreign language for travel or fun. Have you always wanted to go to France or India or China, but are worried about not speaking the language? Enroll in a foreign language class so you have the basics to make your travels easier. Classes are usually categorized as “conversational”, “for travel” or by level (i.e., French I, Spanish I, etc.). Any classes will teach you the basics–such as how to say yes, no, ask for directions, inquire as to where the bathroom is, order food, etc.

3) To set a good precedent for your children. Maybe you didn’t get as much education as you wanted. Maybe you want your child to stay in school and to learn as much as possible. Sometimes the best way to lead a child is by example. If you do your homework every night, so will your child. And you can sit at the table together and use it as bonding time.

4) To get a career. Did you not have time to go to school like you wanted? You had your children at a young age, or the opportunity or finances wasn’t there and now you are thinking of what you’d like to do with your life. The thing you currently get up and go to every day is your job; you wouldn’t call it a career, but now you are ready for one. Going to school, whether a trade school, a community college or a university, can get you on track to create a career from your current occupation.

5) For career advancement. Maybe you are in a job you love but you aren’t sure what the next step is: do you want to become a manager or a specialist? Additional education can make the difference between paralegal and lawyer or between medical receptionist and medical assistant.

6) To find a new career. Were you in a job that was recently phased out? Are you still using DOS while the rest of the world is using Windows? Sometimes it isn’t your choice to go back to school, but …