Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm
As babyboomers continue to age and require more medical attention, many of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation are in the health services field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Rapid advances in medical technology for intensive diagnosis and treatments also are fueling the demand for health care workers.
Over the next six years, the number of American health care jobs is expected to increase 25 percent, according to the Department of Labor.
In southeastern Wisconsin, some health care workers, including registered nurses, will see high demands for their services, according to Nancy Vrabec, a registered nurse who is interim dean of the Health Occupations Division of Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Vrabec oversees three major programs of study that train future nurses, dental hygienists and allied health occupations, including physical therapist assistants, surgical technicians and medical assistants.
According to Mary Krueger, president of SDC Healthcare, a Wauwatosa, Watertown and Chicago staffing organization, there have been tremendous changes in the health care employment market in recent years.
"Most facilities still have a high demand for nurses, both RNs and LPNs, but they need many more ancillary health care people, such as respiratory therapists and imaging technologists. The latter position is harder than hen’s teeth to fill. And we’re seeing a limited need for CNAs (certified nursing assistants)," Krueger said.
Krueger believes the demand for highly skilled emergency room and critical care nurses also will be high over the next five or six years.
"But we’ll see a huge demand for individuals capable of doing in-home nursing care, too, because of the aging population," Krueger said.
The demand for physical and occupational therapy positions will continue to grow, Krueger said.
"So much of the demand for these positions is generated by how third-party payers (insurers) choose to pay. Several years ago, Medicare reduced reimbursements for physical and occupational therapies in long-term care environments, and the bottom fell out of the market. PTs and OTs were taking positions in other fields. But Medicare has improved its payment policy, and PT and OT are growing fields again."
"You hear a lot about the need for nurses, but we’re concerned about a shortage of clinical nurse educators," says Liz Forman, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital’s vice president of human resources. "Because there aren’t enough of them, that constricts the nursing employment pipeline. We encourage our RNs to go back to school to earn their master’s degrees so they can provide that instruction."
Forman said advances in medical technology will create greater demand for specialists.
"For example, the new technology in interventional radiology has caused a demand for radiological technologists highly trained in that area. Nuclear medicine technologists and radiation therapists are two other positions in high demand these days. The demand for those positions will continue to grow because the number of new cancer centers around the country is growing," Forman said.
"The need for clinical information systems experts is also growing because more medical organizations are expanding their electronic medical records capability," Forman said. "Clinical information experts advise information technology people on how to set up electronic medical records and how to make the process work."
At the various Aurora Health Care hospitals in the region, the top employment challenge currently is filling RN positions, according to Dwight Morgan, vice president of human resources at the Milwaukee-based company.
"And we’ll be faced with that need over the next five years or so," Morgan said. "There’s also a demand for hospital pharmacists, radiological technologists, nuclear medicine technologists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, medical records transcriptionists and coders, surgical technologists, medical laboratory technologists and physicians in such specialty areas as neurology."
"From our perspective, highly specialized health care jobs are in demand," said Jill Schwiedters, regional vice president of human resources for Covenant Health Care. "There’s a full range of positions needed, from office to direct patient care. Medical record coders are very much in demand now and in the foreseeable future. That’s a traditional office job, but it plays a critical role in making sure that the services provide to our patients are accurately recorded and billed appropriately."
The specialized direct patient care positions will be hot jobs, Schwiedters said.
"There’s a high demand for radiation therapists, along with dosemitrists-specialists who work with radiation therapists to ensure the proper dose of radiation is given to patients – and physicists who calibrate X-ray equipment. Ultrasonagraphers are needed, as are specialized RNs such as operating room and cardiac nurses. And there’s a demand for nursing leadership positions."
Because of the unique nature of the patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Chris Johnson, human resources manager, cites the hospital’s continuing need for neonatal nurse practitioners and neurophysiology technologists.
"There’s only one school in the state that trains neurophysiology technologists. And there’s a shortage or radiology technologists because more classes need to be offered to them. We also see a continuing demand for bi-lingual physicians and nurses.
"There are big waiting lists for our programs at MATC," says Vrabec. "In our RN program, for instance, we bring in 240 new students each year and currently have a waiting list of about 900. Students wanting to enter our cardiovascular technician program will have to wait until August, 2007, to get in."
Second in popularity to MATC’s RN course of study is its program for radiographers, followed by the programs for practical nurses, nursing assistants and medical assistants.
"There’s a big shortage of radiographers that our students can fill," she says. "Over the next five or six years, demand for those positions will remain high."
August 6, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI