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2011 Healthcare Employment Outlook

John Rossheim | Monster Senior Contributing Writer

2011 Healthcare Employment Outlook

Despite Politics and Court Battles, Reform Likely Will Create Jobs

The 30 million Americans who are scheduled to gain insurance coverage under healthcare reform will double their use of healthcare, which should drive hiring, says Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum center.

But clouds of doubt continue to swirl around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “Hospitals don’t know what’s going to happen with healthcare reform — what will stick, what Congress will do,” says Peter Ferguson, senior vice president of health and life sciences at Yoh, a Philadelphia-based recruitment and staffing firm. Ongoing legal challenges to healthcare reform virtually guarantee the uncertainty will continue for years.

Yet “healthcare executives are behaving as if they expect reform to happen,” Roehrig says. Hospitals, for example, are beginning to buy up primary-care groups.

“Under healthcare reform there will be more opportunities for professionals who supply more physician services without increasing the number of physicians — nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical assistants,” Roehrig says. However, state and federal budget deficits will constrain hiring somewhat for the foreseeable future largely due to cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding. “And with incentives to keep hospital costs down, the rate of growth in hospital employment is likely to stay low,” he adds.

For his part, Yee says he’s taking a more short-term view. “We’re more focused on our immediate needs that we can [grasp], versus healthcare reform over the next few years,” he says.

Still, many healthcare occupations are projected to expand mightily over the coming decade. Among the 30 jobs projected to grow the fastest from 2008 to 2018, seven are in healthcare: RNs (582,000 more jobs); home-health aides (461,000); personal and home-care aides (376,000); nursing aides, orderlies and attendants (276,000); medical assistants (164,000); licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (156,000); and physicians and surgeons (144,000).

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