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Healthcare is rapidly changing before our eyes. In the age of COVID-19, we have seen the rise in the use of technology to render primary care visits, participate in physician consults, perform basic patient intake assessments, and schedule surgical procedures. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare occupations are “…expected to grow 15% from 2019 until 2029”. Additionally, the BLS (2020) identified that the growth in the healthcare workforce is associated with the aging population and the increased need for healthcare services. The future of nursing and the rise in the use of technology at the point of care is at the forefront in the profession.
The Current Job Market for Healthcare Professionals
The healthcare industry has experienced considerable growth over the years. Most prominently, the healthcare job market witnessed its largest amount of growth in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, 346,000 new healthcare jobs were created in 2018, which outpaced other business sectors, such as food services, construction, retail sales, and manufacturing. Although healthcare has seen significant growth in job creation, the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that there is still a worldwide shortage. More than 18 million healthcare workers will be needed in 2030 to address the needs of the underserved and in underdeveloped nations. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the healthcare workforce, which stresses the importance of directing federal funding to the education of physician residency programs, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in order to meet the impending demand.
The Future of the Job Market for Healthcare Professionals
The healthcare job market and requisite educational programs are poised for expansion in the coming years. The BLS projected that there is and will be a need for 45 different healthcare-related positions from now until 2029. The growing need for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nursing, lab, and pharmacy support, and other support staff poses an immediate and future labor demand, as well as a need for funding for and creation of educational programs. Additionally, the BLS noted that the rise in the use of technology will create a need for trained personnel in the areas of IT security, software development, and new products associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). Therefore, there will be a need for educators to facilitate the educational needs of a growing healthcare workforce.
Rise of the Machine and Technology
The use of healthcare technology and the advancement of technological applications has grown over the last ten years. Healthcare quality has been enhanced through the use of health information technology, such as the adoption of the electronic health record, integration of technology in bedside care, and the rise in use of telehealth. Some of the main technology jobs that will be in demand in the near future such as artificial intelligence development, telemedicine, nanomedicine, virtual reality for physical and mental health care, 3D printing designers for skeletal bones and prosthetic devices, and advanced robotic surgeries. The rise in the use of technology will continue to create additional jobs in the healthcare sector and revolutionize healthcare.
A Lifelong Educational Process
There is a profound need for healthcare providers from all sectors of the industry. Technology and the jobs it creates adds to this need. In the next five to ten years, it is likely that some positions will be replaced with artificial intelligence and that telemedicine will be commonplace. That said, the healthcare providers and their collective experience and expertise will always be in need. Therefore, the education and development of healthcare providers will be essential and ongoing. Accordingly, healthcare professionals will need to continuously engage in lifelong learning to meet the impending demands associated with the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
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