Allied Health Overview

Career Options

Programs in Allied Health help prepare students for further study and employment in a variety of health assessment and health technician occupations such as occupational therapy, registered nursing, respiratory therapy, radiologic technology, surgical technology, and nuclear medicine technology. Health care practitioners may advance to more responsible positions with experience and additional education and certifications. Some advance to supervisory or management positions while others may pursue careers in teaching, research, or consulting. Some health assessment and health technician workers leave their profession to work for companies that manufacture and/or distribute health care products. To find information on all healthcare education programs offered in the San Mateo Community College District (Skyline College, College of San Mateo and Canada College) visit go into healthcare.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the program students will be able to:

  • Use aseptic technique in clinical and laboratory environments
  • Discuss and understand the role of microorganisms in healthy individuals and in infectious diseases
  • Demonstrate understanding of the structure of the human body
  • Apply the concept of homeostasis to basic principles in medicine
  • Discuss and understand the principles of cellular metabolism, molecular genetics, and immunology
  • Demonstrate the ability to report scientific information appropriately and effectively
  • Utilizes the scientific method to analyze and interpret data
  • Use the periodic table and other reference sources to gather information needed to solve chemical problems
  • Identify functional groups or reaction types and understand the role of biologically important molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) in the body

Job Description

Most health assessment and health technician personnel work in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and community care settings. Job duties vary significantly with job title. Occupational therapists help individuals with mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling conditions to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. Registered nurses care for the sick and injured and help people stay well. They observe, record, and assess symptoms, reactions, and progress; assist physicians during treatments and examinations; administer medications; assist in convalescence and rehabilitation; and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health.

Respiratory therapists administer respiratory care and life support to patients with breathing and cardiopulmonary disorders. They perform chest physiotherapy, administer aerosol medications, deliver oxygen via mask, nasal cannula, or respirator, and evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of therapy. Radiologic technologists produce X-ray films of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical problems. they prepare, position, and protect patients during X-ray and other diagnostic imaging procedures.

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radio-pharmaceuticals to patients under the supervision of a physician. They operate cameras that detect and map the radioactive drug in the patient's body to create an image. Surgical technologists assist in operations under the supervision of surgeons or surgical nurses. They help set up the operating room with surgical instruments, equipment, sterile linens, and fluids. They prepare, transport, and position patients for surgery assist during surgery by passing instruments to surgeons by holding instruments, cutting sutures, and helping to count supplies and equipment items,

All health assessment and health technician workers are part of the health care team and work closely with physicians and other allied health professionals. Some may work under great stress. Many work evenings, nights, and weekends.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

Educational requirements for health assessment and health technician occupations vary. Occupational therapists generally hold a bachelor's degree. Registered nursing and respiratory therapy programs are offered both at the bachelor's and associate degree level. Radiologic technology, nuclear medicine technology, and surgical technology programs are normally offered at the associate degree or certificate level. Specific skills and abilities associated with health assessment and health technician occupations are defined and monitored by accrediting and certification agencies.

All health care professionals must be sensitive to patient's physical and psychological needs and must work well as part of a team. They must be alert, able to pay attention to detail and follow instructions. Some occupations require manual dexterity and familiarity with specialized equipment. All require a knowledge of appropriate safety procedures.

*Note: Students intending to make application to allied health training programs must pay close attention to prerequisite courses and stated entrance requirements.


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