Member Blog: Where Are the Allied Health Professionals in the C-Suite?

C-suite professionals shape health care policy, oversee operations, and steer their organization toward a shared vision. This is despite allied health professionals, a massive group making up over 60% of the healthcare workforce, being largely absent from these leadership roles. Why is that?

This blog is part of a series of profiles of different clinical health professions written by Health Professions Network members. These profiles are intended to give students and those looking at prospective careers in health care an accurate, professional perspective on different health care fields, specialties and careers. This blog was written by Nanci A. Burchell, MBS, BS, CNMT, FSNMMITS. Nanci is an HPN board member and the Radiation Safety Officer at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics - Kansas City, MO

While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many allied health professions, a significant number hold master’s or even doctorate degrees in healthcare or business administration. This educational foundation, coupled with the leadership, communication, and analytical skills honed through patient care and collaboration, positions them well for C-suite roles.  Just like their current counterparts, allied health professionals demonstrate strong ethics, sound judgment, and exceptional time management. They share the passion for tackling complex healthcare issues and the vision of transforming healthcare to meet evolving needs.

Allied healthcare professionals do not lack the skill to lead. Many have successfully served in leadership roles in their professional organizations, served on professional boards and foundations and lobbied for healthcare reform at the state and federal level.

What are factors that have led to allied healthcare professionals being underrepresented in the C-suite? Allied health professionals are often invisible cogs in the health care wheel with little opportunity to showcase their leadership talents. They have unequal access to leadership opportunities. It is often the old paradigm of “it is who you know, not what you know.” They have a lack of opportunity for leadership experience when their daily activities primarily revolve around providing direct patient care. Finally, there is a visible absence of mentorship/sponsorship for allied healthcare professionals.

How do we remedy this inequity? First, provide an advancement algorithm for allied health professionals. Second, provide opportunities for allied health professionals to shine. Include them on interprofessional committees and encourage them to take on committee leadership roles. Involve them in research, encourage them to publish, and provide opportunities for them to present their perspectives at conferences. Just as for physicians and nurses, provide leadership mentors and an advancement pathway. When looking at how leadership decisions affect the organization, be sure to include the allied health perspective.

In an environment where we are trying to provide equitable representation, model diversity, and ensure inclusion, the healthcare industry has fallen woefully short of the mark when it comes to allied healthcare professionals in the C-suite. It is time for a change.

To learn how to get more involved with HPN and help advocate for allied healthcare professionals, visit our advocacy page or reach out to!

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