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Healthcare Careers Continue To Be Popular

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
August 26, 2009

Students and workers pursuing second careers are continuing to flock to jobs in healthcare.

The News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri, reports that enrollment at Missouri State University's College of Health and Human Sciences has been steadily increasing: In 2003, there were 2,282 students, but by 2008 there were 2,827. This year, enrollment has grown to over 3,000.

"In tough economic times, you've got the jobs in the health industry that tend to be more attractive. They tend to be more stable," explained Michael McCorcle, department head and professor of physics at Evangel University, where enrollment has increased in the science and technology program.

McCorcle noted that the growth is due to students interested in pre-professional programs such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, chiropractic, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy.

Susan Sims-Giddens, associate professor of nursing at MSU, also attributed the growth to job losses as a result of the economic downturn. Consequently, she said, "there have been more people coming to the healthcare field for a second career." She noted that classes are now often mixed with students of different ages, with some in their 30s and 40s.

The New York Times reports that displaced workers are naturally migrating to healthcare because it is one of the few sectors where jobs continue to be added. Last year, 135,000 jobs were added to hospitals and 19,400 more were added in the first half of this year.

"The demand for talented leaders in healthcare is only going to go up," noted Jane Groves, a senior vice president at Integrated Healthcare Strategies, an executive search and consulting firm in Kansas City, Missouri. "All that demand can't and shouldn't be filled by people already working in healthcare."

Colin Ward, for example, left his eight-year-old job producing sports broadcasts for ESPN to enter the healthcare sector. He took nearly a year of graduate classes at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and worked as a paid apprentice in a hospital in order to receive his master's in health science and management. He currently is employed at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Maryland as director of corporate strategy.

"I felt like I wanted to be contributing in some other way," Ward, 37, told The Times.

Dr. Steven A. Wartman, president of the nonprofit Association of Academic Health Centers, noted that job opportunities in the field may become scarcer with health reform. But on the other hand, he said, "there is a very strong push to cover more people, with a lot of implications for growth in the healthcare work force."

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