This year, the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2014 rankings featured many health care jobs, as the industry anticipates growth in top-tier, tech support, home health and preventative wellness positions. With more Americans aging, preventative, maintenance and emergency demands are increasing steadily. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and its enactment last year, more Americans are insured and able to afford maintenance and emergency care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is destined to grow most in home health, support and tech positions.
Three trends are recurring this year: An increasing demand for home health care options for aging adults, a need for tech staff to assist top-tier employees and a focus on preventative and wellness care.
Deborah Rowe is the senior director of Genesis HealthCare, a nursing and rehabilitation therapy provider, and past president of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment. According to her, home health aides and personal care aides are going to be crucial. "There is going to be a lot more community care that is going to be needed as we move forward," she says. By 2022, the BLS reports home health aides and personal care aides will bring the most positions to health care, adding more than 1 million jobs overall. Rowe says there are more than 6 million Americans age 85 years old and older, and there will be 21 million by 2050. "There is an increasing demand as [senior citizens] are getting older and managing their chronic diseases and living with them," she says. Home health aides and personal care aides, who work in homes and assisted living facilities, will diversify their experiences outside of hospitals. "As people are aging, it takes that level of care to help people reside in their homes, whether they need transportation to their medical appointments or someone ... to go shopping for them," Rowe says.
Support and Tech
The changes in demand and reform are reflected in recruitment practices. Bonnie Gutierrez, director of the medical staff department at Parker Adventist Hospital and secretary-treasurer for the National Association of Medical Services, says: "In health care we used to see recruiters, and advertising would be focused on clinical positions. Now there’s much more of an effort to find the right people in support areas." These areas include medical staff services and technologists. Gutierrez calls support individuals like nurse practitioners "physician extenders," because they perform some of the services a doctor can provide and result in more patients being seen. There will be the greatest demand for registered nurses; according to the BLS, RNs are expected to fill 526,800 jobs by 2022. There's also considerable demand for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, medical assistants, phlebotomists, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, medical secretaries, paramedics and nursing aides. More technical positions that require specialized school programs and certifications include clinical laboratory technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, radiologic technicians and veterinary technologists and technicians. With more top-tier and support staff utilizing technical equipment, in the event of malfunctions and breakdowns, medical equipment repairers on staff will add 12,800 positions by 2022.
There will be a steady increase in jobs for dentists, but greater opportunity for dental hygienists and dental assistants. According to the BLS, as more studies link oral health to overall health, more dental hygienists and dental assistants will be needed to provide preventative oral care, while dentists will be needed to perform more detailed procedures, like root canals. Physicians, pharmacists and veterinarians will see similar trends. Physician positions are expected to increase by 123,300 jobs, and physician assistants are also expected to see more job opportunities. According to the BLS, pharmacists are still needed to facilitate patient services like flu shots and blood tests, but their hiring demand is surpassed by pharmacy techs, who assist in filling prescriptions and will see 70,7000 new positions by 2022. Veterinary care will grow, with 22,000 new veterinarians to perform specialized tasks, and 25,000 new veterinary technologists to render general care and conduct lab work.
Health and Wellness
Those who keep our minds and bodies in optimal condition will see increases in demand, as health care reform has made preventative and wellness care more accessible. According to the BLS, there will be 73,500 news physical therapist positions, while occupational therapists will garner 32,800, with demand driven by aging but active baby boomers. The aging population also contributes to the growth of services from estheticians and massage therapists.
Under federal legislation, mental health is covered the same as chronic conditions, which will cause an increase in employment for mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of Americans are obese. Programs focused on addressing obesity should help fuel job growth for dietitians and nutritionists to the tune of 14,200 new positions by 2022. An aging population is expected to increase demand for eye care services, and the BLS predicts the need for 15,800 more opticians this decade.
Support roles will continue to grow in health and wellness as well. Almost 65,000 jobs will be available for physical therapist assistants and occupational therapist assistants. Epidemiologists, scientists who examine the causes of disease, will also see an increase in demand as state and local governments set their eyes on employing these professionals outside of hospitals.