Friday, August 10, 2012

The Highest Demand Health Professions

With all of the recent debate about the growth of health care as a share of the U.S. GDP, one surely wonders what is driving all this growth. Guest poster Justin Davis sheds light on sub-sectors of healthcare that are growing fastest: 

When you’re choosing a program of study, it only makes sense to focus on an area that is experiencing growth. You don’t want to spend several years and thousands of dollars studying something that will only land you in the unemployment line.

One area that’s almost guaranteed to get you a job is healthcare. Healthcare, encompassing everything from doctors all the way down to office support, is one of the largest employers in the U.S., and shows no signs of slowing down. Consider going into one of these areas of healthcare to virtually guarantee that you’ll always have a job.

Registered Nurse
While certain professionals will always be in demand, there is one career that eclipses them all: Registered Nurses. In the coming years, there will be a greater need for registered nurses more than any other type of professional, thanks to our aging population – Baby Boomers, the largest generation in American history, are nearing retirement age and increasing their usage of healthcare services. The following generations are also having children now, further taxing the healthcare system. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be more than half a million new nursing positions opening up over the next four or five years – and that’s not even counting the thousands of positions that will open up when current nurses retire.

Landing one of these coveted positions may require relocating, though, as certain areas of the country have nurse shortages, while others are well-staffed. The rewards, though, are great. In addition to the satisfaction of caring for people, on average, RN’s earn $31 per hour; specialized nurses working in critical care areas can more than $40 per hour. Most RN jobs are in hospitals, but you can also find work in physician offices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes home healthcare agencies, and in healthcare related businesses, like insurance companies. In some cases, RNs can also climb the career ladder, landing administrative positions after serving in a patient care for a number of years.

Home Health Aide
Home health aides provide care to those who are house bound, or living with a chronic illness and need regular care. Aides visit these patients at home each day to check vital signs, administer medication, help with personal care and household tasks, and basically monitor patients for changes or conditions that might require further evaluation or treatment. The vast majority of patients are either elderly or disabled, and the job requires a great deal of patience, sensitivity and the ability to work independently. Home health aides are often employed by hospitals or health systems, or private agencies – and the number of job opportunities is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nearly 400,000 new jobs in this field will be created in over the next four years – meaning that there is plenty of room for trained professionals. However, the pay is relatively low for this work, meaning that there is a great deal of turnover.

Healthcare Administration
Not all jobs in healthcare require direct patient care. In hospitals, health systems, insurance companies and government agencies, there is a need for healthcare administrators. Administrators are the backbone of the healthcare industry, developing the policies and procedures that govern the day-to-day operation of the facility, and managing the often complex infrastructure of finances and personnel involved with running a healthcare entity. Administrators develop strategies for growth, answering the ever increasing demands placed on the system, and advocate for quality healthcare for everyone.

While many healthcare administrators have a background in patient care, the majority come from a business background. Healthcare finance in particular is complex, requiring in-depth knowledge of financial and accounting concepts. And because of ongoing changes in the healthcare industry, there is a growing need for experienced administrators – the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth of 9-17 percent over the next five years.

Of course, there are plenty of other areas of healthcare that are showing growth as well. Demand for medical assistants, medical records technicians, pharmacy technicians and medical secretaries and billing professionals is also growing – all fields that offer well-paying jobs and decent wages. So consider these jobs when you’re planning your education and career track – even in challenging economic times, a degree like MSN nursing or an MPH degree will enable you be to count on having work.

This article was written by Justin Davis who is currently working towards a master’s degree. Justin loves to write and believes strongly in the importance of higher education.

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