how will demand change in the future? What are the most effective forms of training and education for allied health workers? What is the relationship between allied health workers and other health professionals? What is the effect of allied health workers on health outcomes? How do regulations governing allied health workers vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and what are the consequences of these variations?


The allied health workforce includes hundreds of professionals employed in different professions with different job duties and different levels of preparation, but there is no single definition of allied health or list of allied health occupations. All formulations exclude physicians and dentists, and most exclude nurses. Others exclude pharmacists, physician assistants, and more.

According to Title 42 of the U.S. Code,1 an allied health professional is a health professional (other than a registered nurse or physician assistant) who has a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctoral degree, or postbaccalaureate training in a science relating to health care and who shares in the responsibility for the delivery of health care services or related services, including

•  services related to the identification, evaluation, and prevention of diseases and disorders;

•  dietary and nutrition services;

•  health promotion services;

•  rehabilitation services; or

•  health system management services.

The definition excludes those with a degree in medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, public health, chiropractic, health administration, clinical psychology, social work, or counseling.

Many of the presenters at the workshop used definitions of allied health that conflicted with this federal definition. Moreover, the definitions used by different speakers differed from each other. Presenters at the workshop also did not draw rigid distinctions between the terms profession, occupation, or field, and this summary does not attempt to regularize the usage of either allied health or profession.

In its 1989 report, the IOM’s Committee to Study the Role of Allied Health Personnel stated


1 42 U.S.C. §295p(5).

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