Allied Health Professions

Most allied health professionals work collaboratively with physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and others to provide quality care for patients. Some allied health professionals work independently. According to the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions: Allied health encompasses a broad group of health professionals who use scientific principles and evidence-based practice for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic diseases; promote disease prevention and wellness for optimum health; and apply administration and management skills to support health care systems in a variety of settings.

On this page: Allied Health Career Spotlights, Careers in Allied Health, and Allied Health Career Resources

Allied Health Career Spotlights

We feature an allied health career in every CPHA newsletter that we send out. Not getting the CPHA newsletter? Sign up to be on our email list. Then you can continue to learn about allied health careers there and back here. We’ll keep the information coming.

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Anesthesiology Assistant

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Anesthesiology Assistant

  • Anesthesiology Assistants work in partnership with anesthesiologists and other medical professionals to care for patients in the operating room under anesthesia.
  • 12 schools in the US offer this 2 year master’s program and participate in the CASAA application. Check out the Master of Science (MSA) program at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).
  • The professional responsibilities and pay of Anesthesiology Assistants are similar to those of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). However, CRNAs are trained as nurses first and are licensed to practice in more states.
  • Visit the American Academy for Anesthesiology Assistants FAQ page or learn more at explorehealthcareers.org.

Cardiovascular Perfusionist

Cardiovascular Perfusionist

  • Perfusionists are trained members of surgical teams who temporarily perform the heart’s job during open-heart surgeries and other major procedures by operating circulation equipment such as a heart-lung machine.
  • They monitor and manage a patient’s blood flow, body temperature, and other respiratory functions during operations.
  • They must have a great knowledge of anatomy and physiology, be detail oriented, and have mental and physical endurance for long surgeries
  • Become a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CPP) by:
  • Find a Perfusionist to shadow or (or set up a safe informational interviewHERE!
  • Watch a video of a perfusionist in action HERE and learn more HERE and HERE.

Cytotechnologist

Cytotechnologist

The above picture is a squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer of the cervix, caused by human papillomavirus infection (HPV). (UW Cytotechnology webpage)

  • Cytotechnologists are medical laboratory professionals who prepare and analyze cellular material under a microscope.
  • They most often work in hospital laboratories but can also work in research or in corporate laboratories.
  • They also typically work behind the scenes, but may interact with patients if assisting with biopsies.
  • Learn more about UW-Madison’s Cytotechnology Program.

Doctor of Optometry

Doctor of Optometry

  • Doctors of Optometry (ODs) examine and diagnose eye injuries, diseases, and vision problems.
  • They provide treatment through corrective lenses, medications, vision therapy, and some surgical procedures. Learn more here and here!
  • Become a licensed Optometrist by:
    (1) Completing the required pre-requisite coursework with your bachelor’s degree
    (2) Taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and applying to Optometry school
    (3) Attending a 4-year Doctor of Optometry program
    (4) Passing a National Board Licensure Exam
  • Work in hospitals, clinics, academia, and retail optical settings
  • Don’t confuse Optometrists with OphthalmologistsOpticians, and Orthoptists! Click on the previous links to learn more about these related professions.
  • Make an appointment with CPHA for more information!

Midwife

Midwifery
  • Midwives are healthcare professionals who provide primary OB-GYN care to people from young adult years through menopause. They specialize in work with expectant individuals from before birth through the postpartum period and provide newborn care, birth control, and family planning. They also provide primary care during labor and birth.
  • There are three credentialing paths to become a midwife: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM), or a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Each has a different range of care they provide, different settings they practice in, and legal status. A nursing degree and a graduate degree are required to become a CNM. Learn more here!
  • Practice in hospitals, private homes, birth centers, or offices
  • Helpful skills: critical-thinking, compassion, collaboration, advocacy, leadership
  • While both midwives and doulas work with mothers from before birth through the postpartum period, and they often work together, their roles differ. Midwives provide medical care for the mother and baby whereas doulas provide nonmedical care such as support related to emotional, physical, and social well being. To learn more about the role of a professional doula, click here.
  • Learn more about the Midwifery Model of Care
  • Want to explore more? Check out this website, these FAQs, or listen to this podcast!

Pathologist Assistant

Pathologist Assistant

  • Are you fascinated by anatomy? Are you detail oriented? Organized? Compassionate? Do you want to have a “behind the scenes” impact on patients?
  • Pathologist Assistants examine and prepare tissue and surgical specimens submitted to a laboratory. They work under the supervision of a Pathologist who will make an ultimate diagnosis.
  • Complete a two year Pathologist Assistant master’s program before taking a certification exam. Learn more here!
  • Work environments include hospitals, pathology labs, reference labs, forensic labs, morgues and academic settings.
  • Learn more here and here! And, read about a day in the life of a Pathologists’ Assistant here.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

  • Food and nutrition professionals specializing in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and treatment of disease through the integration of biochemical, physiological, social, and managerial concepts within the science and art of food and nutrition.
  • Work in hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, athletics, research, industry, and public health
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, counseling and active listening skills, and a science and disease prevention interest
  • Become registered by (1) completing required coursework (2) earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree (master’s degree required by 2024) (3) completing a ​dietetic internship (4) passing a national exam
  • The term “nutritionist” is not synonymous with RDN, the RDN credential signifies completion of the credentialing pathway listed above.
  • Learn more about UW-Madison’s Didactic Program in Dietetics.
  • Make an appointment with  Sarah Golla, Advisor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences to learn more.

Speech-Language Pathologist

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Speech-Language Pathologist

  • Speech-language pathologists work with patients seeking treatment in areas of speech, vocal disorders, communication, and swallowing.
  • They develop long-term relationships with kids and adults.
  • They often work in schools, clinics, nursing homes, or hospitals.
  • A graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology is required. Check out the MS in Speech-Language Pathology at UW-Madison.
  • Make an appointment with CPHA or see Katie Christenson, UW-Madison Undergraduate Advisor for Communication Sciences and Disorders, for more information.

Careers in Allied Health

Careers that require a Certificate or Associate’s Degree:

Advanced Cardiovascular Sonographer, Anesthesia Technologist/Technician, Cardiovascular Technician, Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Emergency Medicine Technician/Paramedic, Hospital Administrator, Lactation Consultant, Massage Therapist, Medical Administrative Specialist, Medical Assistant, Medical Interpreter, Medical Laboratory Technician, Medical Scribe Specialist, Midwife, Neurodiagnostic Technician, Nursing Assistant, Paramedic Technician, Perfusionist (B.S. & M.S. also), Polysomnographic Technician, Radiation Therapist, Recreational Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, Specialist in Blood Bank Technology, Surgical Assistant

Careers that require a Bachelor’s Degree:

Athletic Training, Cyotechnology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Dietetics, Communication Disorders, Health Care Management, Kinesiotherapy, Nutrition (B.S.), Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician

Careers that require a Master’s degree or Above:

Anesthesiology Assistant, Athletic Training, Audiology, Exercise Physiology, Genetic Counselor, Medical Illustration, Medical Social Work, Nutrition (M.S./Ph.D.), Orthotics/Prosthetics, Radiography, Speech-Language Pathology