Health Care Jobs Growing

Health Care Jobs Growing

Richmond Times-Dispatch

March 08, 2010

Aging population creates the need for care workers Angela Pitchford and other students in a nurse aide class in South Richmond, Virginia are learning that there is a correct way to put a support stocking on a fragile patient, to help a patient move to a chair and to help a patient eat.

Nurse aides do a lot of the basic physical duties in patient care settings —work calling for very intimate interaction with patients and tasks many view as unglamorous and messy.

It’s a job with a high turnover rate, and the pay is not great, but federal labor projections forecast it as among the jobs with highest numerical growth through the year 2018.

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“It’s a passion to help people, to see them smile,” said Pitchford, 26, who is enrolled at Asher Comprehensive Training Center in South Richmond.

Caring for older people, she said, is something she’s done from about age 8 when she helped care for her grandfather.

“Even if it was just rubbing his feet with Vaseline,” Pitchford said.

Aging baby boomers will need workers like Pitchford to help them with basic activities of daily living.

About one of every four new jobs created in the United States through 2018 will be in health care and social assistance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That includes 581,000 new job openings for registered nurses and 276,000 new jobs for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants. The forecast assumes full employment and comes with the disclaimer that it’s uncertain what impact the recession that began in December 2007 will have on the projections.

Virginia’s Healthcare Workforce Data Center projections released in January suggest a shortage in the state of 10,000 to 12,000 registered nurses by the year 2017, reaching a shortage of as many as 20,000 to 30,000 nurses by the 2028.

Along with the care demands of baby boomers, the nursing work force itself is aging.

Kevin Lamoreaux, 35, is switching gears at a good time. He was thinking of returning to nursing school even before his former employer Qimonda shut down its computer chip-making plant in eastern Henrico County.

He had been a nursing student years before, prior to joining the U.S. Navy.

“I enjoyed the work there [at Qimonda], but I wanted a job more rewarding,” said the Hopewell resident, who is a student in John Tyler Community College’s nursing program.

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