Healthcare dominates

The U.S. workforce is projected to increase and healthcare jobs top the list of fastest growing occupations.

By Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman

Job growth in the United States from 2013 through 2017 is projected to grow at a rate slightly faster than the preceding postrecession years. But for certain occupations and metropolitan areas, that outlook is much brighter. According to a report by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) the U.S. workforce is projected to grow 4.4 percent from 2013 to 2017.

The strongest projected growth is found in occupations supporting the healthcare industry. Of the 50 fastest growing occupations, 26 are in medical, allied health or health-related roles. The occupations range from low-skill personal care roles to high-skill jobs like occupational therapy or biomedical engineering.

The top five fastest growing occupations include personal care aides, home health aides, market research analysts and marketing specialists, medical secretaries and emergency medical techs and paramedics. The two list toppers—personal care aides and home health aides—are projected to add nearly a half million jobs through 2017 and are gaining prominence as the population ages.

Several fast-growing healthcare occupations fall within the medium-wage category. These include medical secretaries, emergency medical technicians, medical assistants and pharmacy technicians. The one high-wage exception is registered  nurses, which expect to gain more than a quarter of a million jobs by 2017.

According to the report, looking only at the fastest-growing jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher, it appears workers in allied health and other healthcare occupations are the clear winners. Topping the list is biomedical engineers, an occupation critical to the development of new medicines and the overall effectiveness of patient care. It is joined by medical scientists, biochemists and biophysicists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

Local Outlooks
The projected job outlook looks favorable for Kentuckiana, thanks in part to the ACA.

“Occupational demand in health care is primarily driven by demand for services,” said Jason Lovelace, president of CareerBuilder’s healthcare divison. More than 100,000 Kentucky residents enrolled in health insurance through kynect before the New Year. So as more people gain access to healthcare, the number of workers required to provide high-quality patient care will naturally increase.

“Moreover, this is compounded by the fact that the population is aging, which is why we see strong growth in home care and nursing, specifically,” he continued.

Louisville, for example, can expect a 2.3 percent growth in jobs by 2017. The top five fastest growing occupations in Louisville include: health aides, personal care aides, physical therapists, medical secretaries, medical assistants and dental assistants.

More good news for Louisville Metro is that CareerBuilder and EMSI’s analysis lists Louisville/Jefferson County eighth in terms of metros with the highest share of high-wage jobs at 47 percent.

Rounding out the top are Washington-Arlington-Alexandr ia (58 percent), Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (54 percent), Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (50 percent), Baltimore-Townson (50 percent), Kansas City (49 percent), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (49 percent) and Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford (48 percent).

Where are the Jobs?
The top healthcare occupations at Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services range from entry-level to professional
positions. “Some of the top healthcare occupations we are currently recruiting for are entry-level such as positions in food and nutrition and environmental services,” said Kayla Williams, allied health/nurse recruiter, human resources, Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services, New Albany, Ind. “We are also heavily recruiting nursing positions throughout the organization as well as surgical technicians.”

Occupations Williams expects to see in high demand over the next few years will include nursing positions as well as medical technologists since, Williams said, “A large percentage of our associates in these positions plan to retire or are thinking about retirement.”

Steven Rudolf, vice president, human resources, Baptist Health Louisville, has also seen a rise in retirements and, consequently, projects an increasing need for hiring staff within areas such as laboratory (med techs), nursing (staff RNs) and surgery (OR nurses) as employees begin to retire.

“We also anticipate hiring more midlevel practitioners (APRNs/NPs/PAs) as we move to serve the increasing needs of our patient population and to help offset potential shortages in the availability of primarycare physicians,” Rudolf continued.

For now, overall hiring, said Rudolf, has been relatively stable within Baptist  Health Louisville with headcounts remaining relatively flat.

“Most of our hiring of additional/new staff has come from within our physician group, Baptist Medical Associates, which has experienced significant double digit growth for the past three years,” he said. “On a percentage basis, the largest areas for new hires (excluding physicians) include: nursing (RNs) (18.5 percent), nursing assistants (12.6 percent), medical assistants (6.8 percent), front office clerks (5.1 percent) and dietary workers (2.1 percent).”

Why the Need for Workers?
Whether there exists immediate positions to fill or positions on the horizon for human resource professionals, putting the right healthcare worker in the right role is paramount.

“The shortage of healthcare workers has been an issue, is currently an issue and is expected to continue to be an issue. This is true for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and many other jobs,” said John Elliott, vice president of human resources, University of Louisville Physicians.

“That is because there has been a static production of highly skilled healthcare workers, while demand for healthcare services continues to escalate. We have a growing aging population, plus we as an overall population often don’t take good care of our health, and that helps drive the demand for more healthcare services.”

Lovelace views the prospective job increase as a positive. “This a great time to enter the industry. With so many jobs in the field growing exponentially faster than average, there’s a real opportunity for students and workers of all ages to develop a high-paying career in healthcare – whether it’s in a support role, a specialty, nursing or general practice,” he said.

Only time will tell if Kentucky has the manpower to fill the projected healthcare jobs. It looks like the jobs will be there, waiting, and so will the patients.


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