Health Professionals

Despite working in the same medical setting, healthcare professionals are considered distinct from other clinical or contracted hospital staff – who have to work under the supervision of the former. Is this difference significant? Keep reading

What Does it Mean to be a Healthcare Professional?

The American Medical Association defines these professionals as individuals with the necessary education, training, license and/or certification from youth work courses, who are obligated by a professional body to report any professional service he or she renders. In the strictest sense of the definition, these professionals hold more obligations than health associate professionals.

While a patient visiting a doctor’s office might not make a distinction between a nurse, a lab attendant drawing blood and a doctor, the medical industry’s a little more specific. The reason is that, in the event of a malpractice or insurance claims, the government likes to know exactly who to hold accountable. Hence, even though medical assistants, nurses, and technicians are trained in the field of medicine, they don’t work independently.

Bear in mind that healthcare professionals are only considered qualified when working within their skill set. A neurosurgeon who suddenly gets an itch to perform dental surgery won’t be considered working within his/her practice. Of course, different states have different laws, but the general idea behind the definition of a health care professional is to hold someone liable for treatment, rather than who’s in a doctor’s examination room with you.

What are the Different Health professionals?

While both may have access to patient care directly, experts tend to differentiate between direct, allied or associated health professionals on one hand and health practitioners on the other.

Health associate professionals work in conjunction with healthcare teams to provide technical and practical assistance. They include:

  • Community health workers
  • Medical assistants
  • Lactation consultants
  • Anesthesia technicians
  • Prosthetic technicians
  • Medical records and health information technicians
  • Ambulance workers

The International Standard Classification of Occupation provides a more narrow list of different professionals in health. They include:

Medical Doctors: including public health doctors, specialists, and general medical practice.

  • Nursing Professionals
  • Midwifery Professionals
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Dieticians
  • Physiotherapists
  • Traditional and complementary medicine professionals (like Acupuncturists)

What are the Roles of Health Professionals?

Evaluation of injury and disease.

All the way from the paramedic who responds to the call for help, to the lab technician who verifies the blood work, every health professional is dedicated to uncovering the cause of an ailment.


Health practitioners are responsible for delivering the necessary treatment via a plethora of venues. Doctors may direct patients to pharmacists, physical therapists or even psychologists.

Care and Prevention

Healthcare practitioners provide either short or long term care under the supervision of nurses and doctors in a facility, as well as education to preempt preventable diseases.


The bulk of operating a health facility, including ensuring proper medical bills without compromising patient privacy is left to health practitioners. Note that not all doctors practice. Most hospital boards are led by doctors, who may or may not practice.

What is a Major in Health Professions?

A major in the health profession is a field that prepares students for further studies in the health industry. As students progress in their health professions major, they will be able to narrow their studies to specific fields. So someone who wants to become a nurse, for example, can major in health professions, take elective courses that narrow his/her studies to nursing, and then go to nursing school upon graduation.

What does a General Medicine Doctor do?

General practitioners are considered jack of all trades and master of none. They’re the ultimate family doctors. Some may go on to specialize in one area, but they’re primarily trained to manage everyday conditions, both long and short term. As long as it doesn’t involve cutting significant, i.e. surgery. A general practitioner will easily be able to diagnose high blood pressure (heart), asthma (lungs), while also treating someone of epilepsy (brain) or diabetes (endocrine).

What is the Difference between General Medicine and Internal Medicine?

Internal medical practitioners tend to have more education and specialization with the internal medical needs of adults (and sometimes teens). Very rarely do internists treat children though, and that’s only possible when they have some pediatric certification in addition to their internal medical license. General practitioners, however, are considered family doctors. I.e. they can treat every member of a family for a broad range of illnesses – regardless of their growth stage.

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