Demand in Healthcare Professions

By Lindsey Nolen

Geography plays a major role in job outlooks.

Healthcare is a rapidly growing industry, with average demand outpacing other job sectors. Generated from a longer living population in combination with expanded insurance coverage, nearly 3.8 million new jobs will be created in the healthcare sector by 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects.

“Medstaff experienced about 55% growth in 2015, and they project about 48% growth for 2016,” said Andrea Boehme-Hernandez, CEO and owner of Medstaff National Medical Staffing, a locum tenens firm based in Morrisville, N.C.

The demand for health professionals varies across the array of occupations and subspecialties. Many factors, including geographic location and graduation rate, affect which professions are in the highest demand. Here are five professions in high demand for the next few years:

Demand in Healthcare Professions

Registered Nurses

The shortage of nurses has been an ongoing problem, and the job outlook for registered nurses is predicted to grow 16% between 2014 and 2024.

Geographically, the state with the most demand for nurses is California. According to Working Nurse, The Nurse Workforce Report Card gave California’s RN supply a “D” grade and projects that by 2030, it will be more than 193,000 nurses short of its nursing needs.1 Furthermore, California has a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio, making its needs especially critical.

With more than 3 million residents in Florida older than 65, this state also has a higher need for registered nurses. Approximately 128,365 nursing jobs will be available in Florida by 2030, according to the Acuity Team.2

This healthcare recruiting company also explains that by 2030 in Texas, job demand will increase by 62%, owing to a total of 109,779 nursing jobs across the state. Similarly, Arizona will be facing an RN shortage amounting to 530 RNs per 100,000 people by 2030.

“Right now, the greatest demand for nurses is in California, Florida and Texas. But we’re also seeing a big uptick in demand all across the country,” confirmed Eric Darienzo, president of RNnetwork, a registered nurse staffing agency that places registered nurses in facilities across the United States. “During the past 18 months, we’ve seen open nursing jobs increase threefold. The most in-demand nursing specialties are those in the operating room, labor and delivery, and the intensive care unit.”

Physical Therapists

As knowledge of the effects of chronic conditions continues to expand, physical therapists (PTs) have developed even better ways to treat such disorders. Helping these patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall mobility, the job outlook for PTs is estimated to grow at 34% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS3.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Position Paper,4 “Based on current trends in the physical therapist workforce, the shortage of physical therapists could potentially exceed 27,000 in the United States by 2020, greater than other primary care disciplines recognized by the National Health Service Corps.”

Although most physical therapists are able to find employment in acute-care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and orthopedic settings, employment opportunities are especially favorable in rural areas where there is higher demand due to a shortage of industry professionals.

“There are a few reasons for the increased demand in physical therapists. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans now have health insurance and more insurance plans now offer standard coverage for physical therapy,” explained Therese Kelly, physical therapy manager at CompHealth, a resource for healthcare providers seeking employment and which places physical therapists in jobs across the country. “During the recession, a lot of people chose to power through an injury, rather than see a therapist. Now that the economy is rebounding, people are receiving the care they had been putting off.”

Recently, the APTA established a system to determine which states have the best opportunity for physical therapists. This system weighted eight criteria equally to determine an actual cumulative state score, which could range from 63.0 to 104.4. The areas of criteria included: well-being and future livability; literacy and health literacy; employment and employment projections; business and practice friendliness; technology and innovation; PT, PTA and student engagement with APTA; compensation and cost of living; and health and financial disparities.

As reported by APTA,5 the top five states for PT practice are, in order, Utah (104.375 points), Virginia (98.385 points), Nebraska (98.3 points), Colorado (95.7 points) and Minnesota (95.5 points).

Audiologists

Audiologist demand will grow 29% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The demand for this occupation is often largest in areas with large numbers of retirees.

This being said, if audiologists are willing to relocate, better employment opportunity exists in a number of select counties and cities across the United States. Included in this list, established by the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/09/where-do-the-oldest-americans-live/), are: Surner, Fla.; Charlotte, Fla.; Citrus, Fla.; Sarasota, Fla.; La Paz, Ariz.; Lancaster, Va.; Catron, N.M.; Alcona, Mich.; Northumberland, Va.; Sierra, N.M.; and Llano, Texas.

Dental Hygienist

Demand for dental hygienists is expected to increase by 19% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. Also according to this source,6 the nonmetropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for this occupation are the Northern Mountains Region of California, Mother Lode Region of California, Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Northwestern Connecticut and West Central Utah nonmetropolitan areas.

Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for this occupation additionally include St. George, Utah, Medford, Ore., Flint, Mich., Danbury, Conn. and Gadsden, Ala.

The reasons for this increased occupational demand are that ongoing research has linked oral health to the general health of the human body, making preventive care increasingly necessary. Furthermore, the demand for dental services is predicted to increase as the population ages, cosmetic dental services become increasingly popular, and access to health insurance continues to grow.

Dietitian

According to the World Atlas, the United States is the most obese country in North America, with 33% of its population having a body mass index of exceeding 30.0.7 The BLS has projected that careers in dietetics “will grow due to increased emphasis on disease prevention by improved health habits,” and projects the field to expand by 16% between 2014 and 2024. This rate is much faster than the average.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more dietitians and nutritionists are now needed to provide care for people with these conditions. Thus, areas with the highest levels of obesity are prime areas for dietitian employment. One study by the CDC specifically found that Opelousas, La., is the “fattest city in America.” Next are Orangeburg, S.C.; Hammond, La.; Saginaw, Mich.; and Roanoke Rapids, N.C. Therefore, these locations would be ideal for a dietary expert seeking employment.

By researching where demand is highest for each healthcare profession, the quality of a professional’s job prospects can greatly improve.

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References

1. Working Nurse. The Nursing Shortage Paradox in California. Available at: http://goo.gl/1hO3Ie

2. The Acuity Team. A Geographical Look at the Demand for Nurses. Available at: http://goo.gl/nBmmFh

3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physical Therapists. Available at: http://goo.gl/p3WTuq

4. American Physical Therapy Association. Education & Workforce Legislation. Available at: http://goo.gl/xOPVLZ

5. American Physical Therapy Association. The Best States in Which to Practice. Available at: http://goo.gl/f0Uq6v

6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. Available at: http://goo.gl/BmAJne

7. World Atlas. 29 Most Obese Countries In The World. Available at: http://goo.gl/2l7bn5

Lindsey Nolen is a staff writer. Contact: lnolen@advanceweb.com.

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