Risks and Aging Among Concerns for Allied Health Professionals

As an allied health professional, you help to comprise a major segment of the total health care workforce. Due to recent advances in technology, combined with increasingly complex patient-related issues, you may now be required, as a health care practitioner, to be aware of, and sensitive to new risks and exposures. New research indicates that allied health personnel will need to educate themselves further in order to perceive additional ethical issues in health care, and be able to depict their involvement when certain situations arise.

Qualitative and quantitative methodology was employed with thirty-six case study subjects at a large mid-west urban medical center. Two-thirds of the population was female and more than half of the sample had formal training in bioethics. Several ethical themes emerged in the workplace with health practitioners including issues of teamwork, confidentiality, assessment, and documentation.

It was decided that one of the most important elements for good provider-patient relationship was professional judgment. The need for a structured coursework as a link between formal training and the health care setting was expressed as essential by all of the subjects. The allied health professionals perceived that maintaining these dynamics would create a more productive and satisfying experience for their patients.

The workforce itself is likewise aging. It is quite likely that one third of all current physicians will retire over the next 10 years, mainly because close to 40 percent of doctors are older than 55 years of age. About one-third of the nursing workforce is older than 50 and more than half have expressed an intention to retire in the next decade. Several factors that may contribute to a shortage in nursing include:

• A diminishing pipeline of new students to nursing

• A decline in RN earnings relative to other career options

• An aging nursing workforce, and

• The aging populations that will require more intense health care services

In addition, nurses report high levels of job dissatisfaction, which leads to high turnover and early retirement among RNs, particularly those who are allied healthcare professionals.