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Do health workers ever get laid off?

Last year, more than 2.6 million workers lost their jobs. But, if you've been reading this blog (or maybe you saw it on Yahoo!), you know health employers actually added more than 370,000 workers to their payrolls in 2008.

Is health care a "recession-proof" industry?

No field is immune to economic downturns, but the health industry does seem to weather recession better than most. When fortunes fade, people may stop buying cars, taking trips or eating out, but they still get injured and sick.

They may postpone elective procedures, and switch from name-brand to generic drugs. But in general, health care is one of the last things people cut back on.

Demographics, rather than economics, tends to drive health care employment. America's population is aging, and older people need more health care -- no matter what the economy is doing.

From the New York Times (Jan. 26):

"As the recession deepens, the only industry in the private sector adding jobs in significant numbers is health care, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it is doing so across the board, from physician to bed pan attendant."

It's hard to outsource health care jobs

Another reason health employers continue to hire: Many health care jobs can't easily be outsourced or replaced by new technologies. In fact, new technologies are helping to create new health care jobs.

So if you're looking for a career that promises steady employment, now is a good time to explore health careers.

Comments

EHC says...

Osteopathic medicine is growing fast – the American Osteopathic Association projects that by 2015, there will be more than 90,000 D.O.s practicing nationwide. EHC’s career profile of osteopathic medicine provides a lot of information about academic requirements and employment potential.

You’ll find more links under the “Resources” tab in the career profile. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine would be a good place to start.

I am thinking about osteopathic medicine. Can you give me some information on how to prepare for D.O. schools? I am thinking of going to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Do D.O. schools have different requirements? After my medical training, would I as D.O. have a hard time finding work? Will I have the same opportunities an M.D. has?

EHC says...

Healthcare administration is a rapidly growing field, and there are many opportunities for work once you earn your degree.

You’ll find a lot of information in EHC’s health administrator career profile. Be sure to click on the ”resources” tab for links to additional sites. The American College of Healthcare Executives, for example, has a website devoted to careers in healthcare management.

Good luck!

Can you suggest some potential entry level positions for a student without any previous exposure to the medical field pursuing a BS in Healthcare Administration?

EHC says...

The recession certainly has had widespread impact, and California has been particularly hard hit.

However, in most areas health care employers continue to hire new workers, and registered nurses are in especially high demand. Nursing is an especially good field to pursue "career laddering." Career ladder programs enable workers in health care settings to get education and skills training on the job, so they don’t have to take time off and lose income while they prepare for a better-paying career.

If you’re having trouble finding work with a two-year degree, consider pursuing additional education to expand your skills in areas with high growth potential, such as geriatric nursing.

All of a sudden we are hearing that the 2 year RN is not finding the jobs that they used to ...due to economy, current nurses are not retiring and per diem nurses are getting more hours .. is this the end of the nursing shortage at least for the 2 year grads? (from Calif.)

EHC says...

Most health careers are active and involve working with people, so you’re on the right track! Math and science are important, though. If you struggle with these subjects, ask your teachers for extra help.

There are enrichment programs in many fields that may help you in your preparation. For example, the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program provides students seriously interested in applying to medical or dental school with a well-defined, integrated approach to learning, focusing on the basic science curriculum needed to apply to medical or dental school.

Anatomy and physiology are required subjects for most health care providers, including nurses and doctors. Exercise physiologists and kinesiotherapists use this knowledge to help patients improve physical performance. Chiropractors manipulate the spine to reduce chronic pain. And physical therapists help patients regain function following illness or injury.

Scan the full list of health fields and careers – you’re bound to find one that interests you.

I want to work with people and have a very active job. But, I am not strong in the math and science department. I want to have a career that is very hands on. What kind of careers in health would suit my needs? Also, I love human anatomy and physiology courses.

EHC says…

We’re glad EHC was helpful in researching your report.

Physical therapy is a terrific career choice. In fact, it’s one of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Careers for 2009.

EHC’s physical therapy career profile provides a good overview of this career. You’ll also find a video profile and links to key websites that provide additional information. Click on the “resources” tab for links to other websites that focus on this career, too.

This website is very beneficial to me. I am doing a Junior Research project.. a requirement to graduate from high school. It's a new part of the 21st Century Passport I believe. Where could I research more on the topic of the "daily lives" and "technology" used in physical therapy?

EHC says...

Excellent question! Yes, there are many health careers that don't involve direct contact with patients.

If you like science, you could become a clinical laboratory technician or a pharmaceutical scientist. If you're well organized and like being the boss, think about a career in health care administration.

Good with math? There's a big demand for specialists in informatics. Public health is another field that offers a wide variety of career possibilities outside traditional patient-centered health care settings. If you like to draw, why not put your talent to work as a medical illustrator?

Take some time to explore the fields and careers listed on the left side of this page. You're bound to find something that appeals to you.

Are there any health careers where there is no patient contact?

Thank you! We're glad you find EHC helpful.

I enjoy this web site. Thank you.

EHC says...

Health workers are desperately needed in every part of the country. Scan the "Health" section of your Sunday newspaper classified employment ads -- it many cities, that section is by far the largest.

You're right that there are greater shortages in some fields, such as
nursing, dental hygiene, pharmacy technicians, and family medicine. There also are severe shortages of all health workers in certain parts of the country, particularly rural areas.

While some cities may have a sufficient number of highly trained specialists, we can't name any health field that currently has more professionals than jobs. And with a large percentage of health workers expected to retire in the next ten years, nearly all the health professions are projecting shortages by 2020.

The bottom line: Training for just about any health career offers bright prospects for future employment.