Johnson said. As examples, he cited tensions between physician assistants and nurses, between occupational therapists and physical therapists, and between certified diabetes educators and registered dieticians.
Finally, many allied health professions lack diversity. Yet minority health professionals provide the majority of health care to the poor and underserved. Diversity provides for greater access to care, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better educational opportunities for health profession students, Johnson said.
To have a greater influence on health policy, the allied health professions need to develop a brand identity, Johnson concluded. There needs to be an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for the roles of allied health professionals among policy makers, the general public, other health professionals, and allied health professionals. Position papers on the impacts of new policies, testimony at congressional hearings, and a lobbying organization for allied health could all promote the causes of cohesion and advancement.
Many of the messages heard at the workshop resonate with the goals of the National Network of Health Career Programs in Two-Year Colleges, said Carolyn O’Daniel, dean of Allied Health and Nursing at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky, and president of the network. Examples include the emphases on team-based care, chronic care, increased accountability, career pathways, and work-based learning. Many of the barriers discussed at the workshop also are of particular concern to community colleges, including scope-of-practice silos, definitions of professionalism, and the difficulty of identifying the optimal mix of health practitioners.
A unifying strategy, she said, would be the implementation of a core health care curriculum. An interdisciplinary core curriculum could streamline educational processes, improve efficiencies, promote teamwork, and prepare students for changing workforce demands. Similarly, effective partnerships and coalitions among educational institutions not only leverage resources but improve planning.
Career pathways offer the best hope for meeting the needs for various levels of care in a variety of settings, said O’Daniel. Community colleges need to work with partners at both the front end and the back end to create seamless articulation and transparent pathways. Also, work-based learning can increase diversity, promote job satisfaction, improve retention, and decrease costs, all of which will be necessary in the future.
Accountability measures for programs receiving public funds must be