Career Paths of Allied Health Professionals


Aims: To explore career transitions among individuals in select entry‐level healthcare occupations.
Background: Entry‐level healthcare occupations are among the fastest growing occupations in the United States. Public perception is that the healthcare industry provides an opportunity for upward career mobility given the low education requirements to enter many healthcare occupations. The assumption that entry‐level healthcare occupations, such as nursing assistant, lead to higher‐skilled occupations, such as registered nurse, is under‐explored.
Design: We analyzed data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which is a nationally representative and publicly available longitudinal survey of US households.
Methods: Using longitudinal survey data, we examined the job transitions and associated characteristics among individuals in five entry‐level occupations at the aide/assistant level over a 10‐year timeline (2003‐2013) to determine whether they stayed in healthcare and/or moved up in occupational level over time.
Results/Findings: This study found limited evidence of career progression in healthcare in that only a few of the individuals in entry‐level healthcare occupations moved into occupations such as nursing, that required higher education. While many individuals remained in their occupations throughout the study period, we found that 28% of our sample moved out of these entry‐level occupations and into another occupation. The most common “other” occupation categories were “office/administrative” and “personal care/services occupations.” Whether these moves helped individuals advance their careers remains unclear.
Conclusion: Employers and educational institutions should consider efforts to help clarify pathways to advance the careers of individuals in entry‐level healthcare occupations.
This study resulted in a published paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, abstract is included here in the study description.
Lead Researcher: Bianca K. Frogner, PhD
Contact Info:



HRSA: HWRC Allied Health






Authors Title Type Date Documents/Media
Snyder CR, Dahal A, Frogner BK Occupational Mobility among Individuals in Entry‐level Healthcare Jobs in the United States PUBLICATION 03-31-2018 Article

Policy Brief
Snyder CR, Dahal A, Frogner BK Occupational Mobility Among Individuals in Entry-Level Health Professions. PRESENTATION 06-26-2017