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AHEC Update: Allied Health

(click here to download a pdf of this AHEC Update)

Emergency Med TechWho are Allied Health Professionals?
Allied Health Professionals include individuals who:
• Perform x-rays, mammograms, MRIs, and other imaging services
• Perform lead and prostate cancer marker screenings
• Monitor individuals with liver disease, diabetes, and leukemia
• Provide speech, physical, and occupational therapy
• Perform dental cleanings
• Provide emergency medical services (EMTs and paramedics)
• Dispense prescriptions (pharmacy technicians)
• Provide counseling services
• Code and manage medical records
They constitute 36% of all health care jobs in North Carolina.

Allied Health: Engine of Economic Growth in North Carolina

Allied health jobs represent not only a large and increasingly important employment sector in the state, but also an engine for economic growth. Allied health is projected to add 28,600 jobs between 2000 and 2010 – a 36% increase over 2000 employment. Eight of the 10 fastest-growing occupations in North Carolina, across all industries and all jobs, are allied health occupations (see charts on back).

AHEC’s Response to Allied Health Workforce Vacancies

While North Carolina is facing increased demand for allied health workers due to the state’s population growth and increase in the median age, educational programs that produce these workers face serious challenges: too few qualified applicants, high attrition rates, faculty shortages, and lack of sites for clinical education. In addition, there are persistent disparities between rural and urban areas in the supply of allied health workers.

In response to these workforce challenges, the NC AHEC Program engages in a number of strategies to recruit and maintain a quality allied health workforce.These include:
• Providing housing in more than 70 towns/cities for allied health students on clinical rotations in NC communities
• In 2006-2007, providing more than 280 continuing education programs attended by 7,281 allied health professionals
• Promoting allied health professions to middle and high school students through the statewide distribution of the NC Health Careers manual
• With grants from the NC Dept. of Commerce, partnering with community agencies and industries to develop allied health workforce strategies
• Helping develop community-based clinical training sites
• Supporting the Council for Allied Health in North Carolina and workforce vacancy reports in partnership with the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research

North Carolina’s Fastest Growing Occupations
Percent Change in Employment 2002-2012


1. Medical Assistants (4,950) +60.9% change
2. Occupational Therapist Aides (30) +60.0% change
3. Dental Hygienists (2,590) +53.9% change
4. Dental Assistants (3,120) +53.0% change
5. Social and Human Service Assistants (5,110) +48.4% change
6. Medical Records and Health Info Technicians (2,620) +48.3% change
7. Physical Therapist Assistants (720) +47.7% change
8. Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors (2,780) +47.6% change
9. Respiratory Therapy Technicians (330) +47.1% change
10. Respiratory Therapists (1,170) +46.8% change

Allied Health ccupations are highlighted in green