The Future of Healthcare Jobs

By Christina Thielst, FACHE

Learn More About Healthcare DegreesAccording to O*Net, the occupational outlook for healthcare projects growth by 23% from 2012 to 2022, and this is faster than the average for all occupations. While much of this growth will be represented by the clinical professions, there will also be growth in administrative functions that support these care providers.

The projected growth in healthcare jobs is due primarily to an increase in the older adult population; those who tend to have the greatest healthcare needs – acute illnesses related to aging processes, chronic conditions, and end-of-life care needs. People are living longer and the Silver Tsunami of aging Baby Boomers has already begun.  In addition, the retirement of healthcare professionals from this same generation has started and will increase until the last of the Baby Boomers reach retirement age in 2022.  This means careers supporting the field of medicine will be strong over the next several years.

Some entry level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree and moving up to management or leadership roles will usually require a master’s degree especially for the more competitive roles...

The current emphasis on prevention and pressure to keep patients out of the hospital also means the outlook for health administration is brightest for positions in clinics, home health and hospice agencies, nursing homes, ambulatory surgery centers and other outpatient settings.  These are the same settings where the most growth in clinical jobs will occur and administrators who specialize in billing, coding, network development, contracting and managing the day-to-day business aspects associated with healthcare delivery will be needed to support the work of these clinicians.

Many of these positions will require education beyond high school and some positions will require a bachelor’s or master’s degree--both affordable and attainable through online sources. Administrative professionals can expect varied and complex duties and the need for business administration skills with knowledge of medical services and the many regulations governing the industry.  Recruiters will look for candidates who:

  • can draw upon skills in managing people, processes and resources
  • have an aptitude for analyzing data to help guide decision making
  • are capable of reducing inefficiencies and improving effectiveness in administrative, operational and clinical processes
  • understand risks associated with patient safety and confidentiality
  • have knowledge of current technologies and safeguards for protecting privacy in healthcare settings
  • are innovative and capable of finding business solutions that will contribute to the transformation in the healthcare delivery system

One area where we can expect to find new roles and positions relates to extending support out from the hospital to the home.  New positions are being created to coordinate the transition of patients out of the hospital and into sub-acute or skilled facilities, or directly back into their home.  These individuals can expect to be part of a team effort to reduce the risk of the patient decompensating and needing readmission to the hospital.  Responsibilities might include:

  • Educating patients and their family caregivers on self-care techniques and the importance of speaking up early if their condition changes
  • Coordinating follow-up appointments and other activities of the discharge plans
  • Supporting patients who have chronic conditions on use of self-management tools, such as  digital scales, sensors, video monitoring, sound/text reminders and other home care devices
  • Maintaining ongoing connections with patients to follow-up, answer questions, provide encouragement and identify those needing clinical intervention
  • Coaching patients and their family caregivers on adherence to treatment plans

Salaries for medical careers can range from $85,000 in small provider environments, such as physician offices, hospice, nursing homes and home health, to over $100,000 in larger facilities, acute hospitals and systems. The most competitive candidates will have at least an associate degree.  Some entry level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree and moving up to management or leadership roles will usually require a master’s degree especially for the more competitive roles at the highest levels of the organization.

Christina Thielst has experienced the evolution of the healthcare system over the last 30 years as both a hospital administrator and consultant. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science/Management from Louisiana State University and a Masters of Health Administration from Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.