Allied Health Career Opportunities Abound in San Francisco Bay Area

 If you are seeking a career in healthcare, consider a profession in allied health. Allied health is a broad term to describe health professionals who work to support doctors and nurses in various medical facilities. A vast number of healthcare positions, from medical assistants to X-ray technicians, fall into this category. Every one of these professionals fills a specific need, and is integral to the successful operation of any healthcare facility, and the industry as a whole.

Benefits of a position in allied health include a relatively short path to education, certification and employment, a diversity of available work environments, and access to both day and evening shifts. Full- and part-time employment options allow you to balance family demands at home, or pursue higher education goals.

While an allied health profession would be a worthwhile long-term career path, it could also serve as a logical step toward a future nursing career, providing valuable hospital experience and a respectable paycheck.

MGA Healthcare specializes in placing qualified candidates in allied health positions in major U.S. markets. Among the many communities we serve, we have seen booming career opportunities for allied health professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, we are privileged to partner with Stanford Hospital and UCSF Medical Center which are among the top hospitals in the country. The following is a sampling of allied health positions we see our Bay Area partners actively seeking to fill.

Medical Assistant

One of the most sought-after professionals in the healthcare industry is the medical assistant (MA). As competent MAs are essential for medical facilities to run smoothly and efficiently, there is a constant demand for these professionals in both hospitals and private practices.

MAs are the first to greet patients, escort them to their treatment rooms, and collect their vitals – such as blood pressure, temperature, height and weight – in preparation for the nurse or doctor. They are also responsible for preparing treatment rooms, and organizing necessary instruments and supplies prior to the doctor even entering the room. MAs typically administer injections to patients, and may also perform routine lab tests.

Because MAs spend most of their day interacting with patients and physicians, strong interpersonal and telephone communication skills are a must. MAs should have a solid understanding of medical terminology and procedures, to accurately follow instructions and meet requests from doctors and nurses. MAs are also expected to enter patient data into a computer to update and maintain electronic health records, so some basic clerical and computer skills are required.

Candidates should have the equivalent of a high school diploma, with a medical assisting certificate from an accredited school. They should also possess a current basic life support (BLS) certification. An accredited certificate program will teach all of the skills necessary for the job, and will include some hours in a clinical setting to provide valuable hands-on experience. 

Sterile Processing Technician

If you’re interested in working in the healthcare industry, and would prefer to stay behind the scenes for most of your workday, a career as a sterile processing technician (SPT) might be right up your alley. SPTs are indispensable to any facility that uses medical equipment, including hospitals, surgery clinics, and dental offices.

Crucial to patient safety, SPTs perform instrument and medical device decontamination to prevent the spread of infection between uses. Once the instruments are properly sterilized, SPTs coordinate their distribution to appropriate exam and operating rooms.

A person considering a career in sterile processing should pay great attention to detail and be willing to follow set procedures with precision, day in and day out. Some benefits to this career choice include a high level of independence in a predictable work environment, as well as the potential for evening or overnight shifts. Sterile processing is also a career with room for advancement to supervisory roles, or growth to becoming a surgical tech.

Before applying for a position in sterile processing, candidates should obtain a sterile processing license. You can acquire licensure by passing a sterile processing exam through either the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM), or the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD).

The Bay Area is home to numerous education programs that prepare hopeful applicants for licensure exams. Coursework would include sterilization methods, surgical terminology, infection control, anatomy microbiology, safety, and risk control.

The best news about sterile processing is that exam preparation can be completed in eight months or less, so you can start working – and earning – in short order.

Respiratory Technician

We have also seen strong demand for respiratory technicians in the Bay Area. Respiratory techs work under the direction of a physician to help perform diagnostic procedures and provide therapeutic respiratory treatments to patients with breathing impairments. Respiratory techs should generally possess strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to comfortably communicate with patients young and old. 

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in respiratory therapy, start with earning an associate’s degree in respiratory care from an accredited school. Respiratory therapy coursework covers medical terminology, patient assessment, a variety of respiratory therapies, ventilation concepts and applications, as well as case analysis and management.

Students also practice their new skills in a computerized simulation lab, and perform clinical rotations to gain experience with actual patients at approved health care facilities.

Program graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) credentialing exams. To work in California, you’ll also need to procure a Respiratory Care Practitioner license with the California Respiratory Care Board.

Radiology Technician

Also known as X-ray technicians, radiology techs use X-ray, CT, and MRI technologies to help radiologists and other physicians identify and diagnose a myriad of serious conditions, including bone fractures, gallstones, and even cancer.

The field of radiology is changing and growing with every technological advancement. This growth creates an increasing demand for qualified, well-trained radiologic technologists. These professionals can work in a variety of locations, including the surgery, trauma, and pediatric departments of any hospital. Many physicians’ offices employ in-house radiologic technologists for routine scans such as mammograms. There are also ample employment opportunities at freestanding diagnostic imaging centers.

Several Bay Area schools offer AS degrees in radiologic technology, which can be earned in less than two years. You’ll study anatomy, pathology, medical ethics, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation. Search for an accredited program that provides students with the opportunity to experience rotations in approved medical facilities prior to graduation.

In addition to graduating from an accredited program, you must pass a certification exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to obtain a license.

How MGA Healthcare Can Help

At MGA Healthcare, we pride ourselves in matching qualified allied health professionals with rewarding careers at some of the top medical centers in the country. We are standing by to help you find the right position to meet your needs.

To apply for any of our current Bay Area allied health positions, visit our website to submit a brief application for immediate review. If you have any questions, we would love to answer them for you. E-mail us at sfallied@mgahealthcare.com, or give us a call at (415) 421-4900.