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The Department of Health Sciences recognizes Allied Health Week each November as an opportunity to celebrate its students, faculty, staff and alumni and their impact on advancing the allied health professions and improving access to health care for all.

Allied health practitioners make up approximately 60 percent of the health care workforce and include professions distinct from nursing and medicine. In UNC’s Department of Health Sciences, these professions include Clinical Laboratory Science, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling, Occupational Therapy, Neurodiagnostic Sleep Science, Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy, Radiologic Science, Speech-Language Pathology, and Audiology.

These professions serve unique roles in health care as they support diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of disease, emphasize wellness as a means for overall health and prevention, and offer rehabilitation options to give patients higher quality of life. Not only do allied health professionals serve individuals, but also families, communities and broader health systems through their work.

The History of Allied Health Professions

Though many of its included professions, including some UNC-CH programs like physical therapy and clinical laboratory science, existed well before, the term “allied health” was popularized by the passage of the Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act in 1967. The legislation brought a new and radical concept of unifying the various disciplines that comprised allied health into academic units with a single administration. Programs included the term “allied” in their names to align with the 1967 training act and associated funding.

Allied health professionals initially served primarily in hospital settings, working alongside physicians and nurses to support patient care. In the decades since their formal grouping as allied health professions, many of these fields have moved beyond hospital patient care into outpatient clinical practice, work in schools and other care centers. Additionally, these professions developed their own academic standards, established their own accreditation bodies, have certification and licensure oversight by state boards and have evolved their own professional organizations.

Over time, many allied health schools, colleges, departments and organizations began to remove the term “allied” in their names, as these professions grew to become large, active, and independent disciplines, advancing beyond their initial definition and “allied” label. Our UNC-CH Department of Health Sciences, formerly the Department of Allied Health Sciences, followed suit and introduced a name change in 2022.

However, the term “allied” holds firm in its meaning – connected.

Connection is Key to Advancing Health Care

Physicians, nurses and allied health professionals are connected by their commitment to patient care. Here at UNC-CH, these connections are forged across schools and departments in the forms of collective research, interprofessional education, and collaborative clinical care.

The Department of Health Sciences is proud to operate within each of the segments of the School of Medicine’s tripartite mission and seeks to continue fostering connection with health care workers, researchers and educators campus-wide, all for the betterment of the health of North Carolinians and beyond.

Dr. Stephen Hooper, Associate Dean of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences, shared: “Our Department is one of the premier set of health sciences programs in the country and I am extremely fortunate to work with the best professionals, the best staff, and the best students in our quest to improve and expand the health care workforce in the state of North Carolina and beyond.”

Schedule of Events

To celebrate Allied Health Professionals Week 2023, the Department of Health Sciences invites students, faculty, staff and colleagues to participate in the following events:

Tuesday, Nov. 7 | 12-1:15 p.m. | Beach Café

The Alliance of Health Ambassadors will host AHP “Jeopardy” outside of the Beach Café. Stop by and test your knowledge about our professions!

Wednesday, Nov. 8 | 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. | The Pit

The Offices of Communication and Student Services will promote the Department of Health Sciences and our various programs at a promotional table between the Student Union and the Pit. Faculty, staff and students are welcome to stop by and support.

Thursday, Nov. 9 | 3-4:30 p.m. | Chair’s Suite, Bondurant Hall

Faculty and staff – join us for an appreciation event featuring festive fall “mocktails,” snacks, fellowship and giveaways. This is a come-and-go event.

Friday, Nov. 10 | 8-10 a.m. | Chair’s Suite, Bondurant Hall

Students – we look forward to celebrating you and both your current and future impacts on your professions with coffee, donuts and giveaways. This is a come-and-go event.