As the Baby Boomer generation ages, someone is going to need to pick up the slack with healthcare. Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries today, due in no small part to a large aging population, reduced numbers in healthcare workers, and reduction in family sizes. Often, people cite having someone to care for them when they age as a motivation behind having children, and with families having fewer and fewer children (and those children they do have often move away as soon as they gain some independence and autonomy), the care of aging adults often falls to professionals rather than family.
It’s not just aging Boomers that need good healthcare professionals. Americans are more obese, less healthy, and more stressed than they’ve ever been–and they’re living longer, too. That means Americans have a much higher need than ever before for qualified healthcare workers. Becoming a doctor is as hard as it ever was, but getting an M.D. is not the only way to have a fulfilling healthcare career.
Below are the three top healthcare careers of 2012, based on salary relative to education cost, opportunity for advancement, current and projected job openings, and overall job satisfaction.
3. Medical Records and Health Information Technician
Medical records are essential to patient care and running a streamlined practice. Without proper and accurate medical records, a patient might run into problems with contradicting treatments or medications that react poorly with one another. Often, even vitamin supplements or antibiotics can negate or interact with certain drugs. Some school districts will not allow entry for public school students without vaccinations, and it is imperative that upon immunization, the patient’s records are transferred promptly to the health department. Medical records technicians make sure that a patient’s records are up-to-date, correct, and stored in a safe place.
In addition, many medical records are going from paper to soft copy or computerized forms. Many medical offices are setting up their patients’ medical histories online, so that the patient can easily access them from anywhere with a secure connection. While the e-storing of medical information has obvious benefits, it also comes with many responsibilities. Medical records technicians must take measures to ensure that their patients’ information is kept safe.
Medical records professionals boast an average salary of $35,010 and may require only an associate’s degree. The profession is expected to expand up to 20% in the next 6 years.
2. Registered Nurse
The registered nurse has always been in demand. While not a glamorous job, with long hours on one’s feet, endless patient and doctor demands, and an inaccurate reputation as a soft or “pink collar” profession, nurses are a special breed of tough and nurturing individuals who work extremely hard. However, with more doctors delegating everyday tasks to nurses, who then delegate appropriately to CNAs and LPNs, primary patient care and important decision-making often falls to nurses.
Registered nurses make an average of $67,720 and the demand is strong and continuing to grow.
1. Medical and Health Services Manager
This profession represents the bureaucracy of healthcare. While red tape is often considered the enemy of good care, medical offices couldn’t run without it. The health services manager oversees the day-to-day running of a medical office, from assigning duties to staying within budget, to coordinating the business of healthcare. This job is very lucrative with an average of $93,670 annual salary and an expected 16% growth by 2018. It typically requires a Master’s degree in one of the health sciences or medical administration, but often a Bachelor’s degree is sufficient for an entry-level position.
Sally Giles is a public health administrator and guest author at The Best Public Health Schools, a site with guides and detailed reviews of top-rated public health degree programs online.