Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I rise to bring attention to the crucial role of health care professionals in providing quality health care across our Nation. Other than being a father, grandfather, and husband nothing has been more personally satisfying for me than meeting and caring for patients. As a practicing physician I have seen firsthand the importance of each and every health care practitioner--not just doctors and nurses--in meeting this country's diverse health care needs. I am thankful for the contribution that dedicated health professionals have made to not just my medical practice, but all of our communities.
These professionals are found not only in hospitals and doctor's offices, but everywhere from local schools to athletic training clinics, long-term care facilities to rehabilitation centers, and providing loving care in hospices and private homes. There are more than 100 distinct allied health professions including respiratory therapists, music therapists, athletic trainers, clinical laboratory scientists, radiologic technologists, medical assistants and many others. They provide expert care in a number of therapeutic, diagnostic and preventive services in a multitude of settings. These professionals practice expertise in disease prevention and control, dietary and nutritional services, mental and physical health promotion, rehabilitation, and health systems management. Approximately 6 million individuals are currently serving in allied health professionals, representing about 60 percent of the healthcare workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations for 2008--2018 are in the health professions.
As Congress continues to engage in a national debate on health care, I have consistently been offering patient-centered solutions that would allow individuals to access care tailored to their individual needs. Consumer choice, not government coercion, has made goods and services that were once scarce affordable and accessible. For instance, in the past 18 months the number of unique iPhone applications available to consumers has gone from 500 to more than 140,000--with 3 billion applications downloaded. If patients were empowered to take control of their health care spending, it would enable health care professionals to more freely exercise their immense talents--no doubt putting Apple and the iPhone to shame.
Regardless of the outcome of the health care debate, these health care professionals will continue to make a difference in their patients' lives. I want to personally thank, and express my support for, these vital health care professionals. Our system could not function without their tireless efforts. I urge my colleagues to join me in recognizing this important group of individuals.