Although the worst of the bleak job market caused by the recent economic recession has passed, most people are finding that it’s still not as easy to find a job as it used to be. Job seekers in some fields are better off than others, however, and in the health care sector, prospects seem to be especially bright.
The economic recovery and consistent population growth are fairly obvious factors in increasing job opportunities. Organizations with larger budgets can afford to hire on a more frequent basis. At the same time, a larger population demands a greater number of jobs, but these influences affect nearly every field. The massive growth predicted for the health care sector can’t be as easily explained, but there are some key reasons for the expansion:.
One component of the forecasted employment increase in health care is an inevitability that was set in motion decades ago. Baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) make up nearly one-third of the U.S. population, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA). The oldest among this generation have already turned 65 and some are now approaching 70.
Although baby boomers are said to live much healthier lifestyles than the generations before them, the fact remains that with age comes a greater chance of developing chronic illnesses. According to the AHA’s report, 60 percent of baby boomers, nearly 40 million people, will be living with more than one chronic illness by 2030. An expected 14 million boomers will have diabetes and 21 million will be obese by that time, and more than 26 million are predicted to have arthritis by 2020. Clearly, the increases in these conditions will put a strain on the health care system if there aren’t enough physicians and nurses to meet the growing demands of this population.
While older Americans are expected to use a significant proportion of health care resources, they’re far from being the only ones who will make expansion of the sector necessary. Another massive societal shift expected to have a major impact on health care came recently in the form of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Commonly known as the ACA, the Act expanded health insurance coverage to an estimated 10 million Americans, the Altarum Institute reported.
There’s no telling yet how much these newly insured people will use their ability to seek medical attention, but usage of emergency and preventive care will likely increase, accelerating the demand for new professionals across the health care sector.
So far, the ACA hasn’t had much of an impact on employment figures. Nearly one million jobs have been added in health care since it passed, according to Forbes, but this growth rate remains consistent with prior figures. If the Act continues to expand, however, health care providers may contend with an influx of patients seeking treatments and tests. As the frontline health care providers for patients, nurses may be among the most in-demand professionals in the field.
Call for higher-skilled workers
Given the predicted increase in patients and the diversity of ailments that providers will be expected to be familiar with, it’s no surprise that graduate-level degrees are becoming more of a necessity.
According to data compiled by Georgetown University, health care has the second-highest proportion of jobs needing graduate degrees, with only education having a higher percentage. Nurses are feeling the pull toward graduate-level education, as more than other occupations, these professionals are encouraged to attain higher levels of knowledge and skills.