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Growing Needs in the Allied Healthcare Workforce

Posted on April 10, 2014

By Dr. Robert Cleary

In addition to training more physicians, we should be focusing on building more efficient delivery systems (Goodman, 2014). Goodman goes on to postulate that we should be focusing on building more efficient delivery systems which includes training of advanced health care workers like: physician assistants; nurses and nurse practitioners; imaging technologists-including entry level RT’s and advanced specialties such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, NMT, and PET technologists;  respiratory therapists; radiation therapists; and medical assistants. “We don’t need to have people trained as brain surgeons taking splinters out of people’s feet” (Goodman, 2014).

The non physician pool needs to grow significantly. The Association of Academic Health Centers found that workforce shortages are a key challenge across all health professions, not just medicine. Responses to the need for growth of Allied Health fields seem to echo common themes: we need more health care providers to address patients’ growing needs however, the key word is “providers.” Efficient and effective treatment for basic health care issues can be provided by nonphysicians. Importing physicians from other countries or training more physicians is not necessary when there are many US citizens who could fill our health care needs (Association, 2014).

Kaiser Permanente Health Care of Virginia and other large health systems already use the “provider” model of care. Clearly, it works. We should train more no physicians as this would take less training time and dollars. Please note that the need for close physician oversight is paramount in the utilization of nonphysician solutions. At times, good, nonphysician clinicians get pushed into doing more than their training and comfort zone allows, and since they are helpful people by nature, they try to do what they’re asked. It can end in poor care at best, and at worst, dangerous care (Association, 2014).

Dr. Robert Cleary has his doctorate in Education Leadership and an MBA in Healthcare Management. He was founder and COO of Imaging for Life/Imaging Heart in the New York tri-state area. He designed, implemented and was University Chair for the highly successful Nuclear Medicine program at Keiser University for eight years and currently is director of the program while developing a new career track based curriculum. Dr. Cleary’s focus is on the adult learner.


 Association, A. M. (2014). Do We Need More Physicians or Efficient Health Care? Journal of the American Medical Association.

Goodman, M. D. (2014). A Growth Spurt for Medical Schools. Chronicle of Higher Education.

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