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Healthcare Workers Continue To Be In Demand

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
October 5, 2009

Even as millions of unemployed workers search for jobs, recruiters are having difficulty finding enough qualified workers to fill healthcare positions such as nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and MRI technicians, and states are struggling to train enough workers to meet the increasing demand.

The Associated Press [from an article originally located at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iU-IBAuj1aMBzYc6kKlcdyr0bCgQD9B4FOA81] reports that economists are pointing to a mismatch between available work and people qualified to do it, and they expect the situation to continue even as the economy strengthens and adds jobs. Steve Jones, a hospital recruiter in Indianapolis, for example, told the AP that he received job applications from a hotel worker and fitness instructor for specialized healthcare positions requiring specific qualifications.

The demand for qualified healthcare workers is only expected to increase in the future. The Wall Street Journal reports that healthcare is expected to be a "big gainer" in the long run, and notes that the Labor Department predicts that the field will add about 300,000 jobs a year through 2016.

Some states, however, are not equipped to meet that growing demand. The Press-Enterprise in Southern California reports that according to a recent report by Beacon Economics, the state needs to train about 1 million workers for allied health careers by 2030 to care for nearly 49.4 million people. The report concluded that based on current projections, California's education system won't be able to train enough workers to meet the need.

"This study leaves no doubt that allied health workers will be in high demand," noted Virginia Hamilton, executive director of the California Workforce Association, which develops strategies to address work force needs. "And with the enormous value this work force sector provides to the state's economy, making sure that Californians get the training they need to fill these good-paying jobs in an opportunity we can't afford to miss."

Nebraska is also experiencing a healthcare worker shortage, and the situation is particularly acute in rural areas, reports the Associated Press. Dr. Keith Mueller, associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and director of the University Center for Rural Health Research, urged lawmakers to take action by investing more money into retaining and expanding programs for healthcare professionals.

He cited a recent report that found that 15 of the state's 38 most rural counties have almost no healthcare providers. The study also indicated that Nebraska has a below-average ratio of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, chiropractors and podiatrists to the population. Moreover, the situation is expected to exacerbate as about half the doctors in the state reach retirement age during the next decade.

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