by Healthforce Center at UCSF Director Sunita Mutha, MD, FACP
As we get ready to elect a new president, discussions around job creation should focus on one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy: health care.
Health care occupations will add more jobs than any other group of occupations between 2014 and 2024, according to estimates from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 19 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs.
Educational requirements vary from state to state, but many health care jobs do not require four years of college. For example, medical assistants, health information technicians do not require a post high school degree; dental hygienists, radiation therapists and respiratory therapists require an associate’s degree. The aging population, in addition to the increase in individuals with access to health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, account for the growth in these jobs, which is unlikely to slow any time soon.
A lot of workers will need to be trained —and fast—to meet these needs, but not by way of ITT Educational Services or Corinthian Colleges, two of the largest for-profit educational companies that filed for bankruptcy after fraud charges. Online, non-profit and community colleges offer promising models. There are also a growing number of employer run training programs that allow employees to expand their skills and move into new health care roles.
It’s an exciting time to join the health care workforce, which is undergoing major transformation in payment, delivery systems, scope of practice, the growth of telemedicine and health technologies, and so much more.
During an election dominated by fear, let’s shift the conversation to opportunity—health care has plenty of it.
Sunita Mutha, MD, FACP, is the director of Healthforce Center at UCSF. For over a decade, Dr. Mutha has been engaged in leadership development for health professionals with a special focus on emerging leaders and inter-professional training.