Job Seekers Pursue Careers In Healthcare

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 12, 2009

Despite the economic downturn, job prospects in the healthcare profession remain strong.

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) reports that job losses were seen in December in virtually every sector except healthcare. And the online job bank, Jobsinme.com, notes that up to 50 percent of available jobs posted are in healthcare.

Meanwhile, PR Newswire reports that Allied Health Research Institute (AHRI), an academic and industry partnership focused on increasing the number of allied health professionals, predicts a shortage of 1.5 to 3 million workers by 2020. Allied health workers include physical therapists, medical lab technologists, and ultrasound technicians. As the nation's population continues to age, the demand for these professionals is expected to rise.

Job seekers are adjusting their career plans accordingly. Lyndsey Mignault, a student of the University of New England in Maine, is one such example: she had once considered becoming a dancer, but instead chose occupational therapy.

"The field of occupational therapy seems to be quite open," she told MPBN at UNE's health career fair. "I've been here since noon, and I've already talked to probably 15 different sites."

Similarly, Washington state's The News Tribune reports that when Mark Meador lost his job in manufacturing and resolved to find a more stable career, he chose to become a respiratory therapist. Meador is now pursuing his goal by studying at Tacoma Community College, and he anticipates a more secure job, and a salary almost twice what he was making before.

"In the current economy, job security is a motivating factor for many professionals looking to enter the workforce or change fields," remarked Dan Hirschfeld, an AHRI board member, who was quoted in PR Newswire. "Employers are in tight competition for the same clinicians. I don't expect this to change in the forseeable future."

Experts point out that the economic downturn has definitely affected healthcare jobs, albeit not as profoundly as in other sectors. A spokesperson for Washington state's Franciscan Health System, which operates hospitals and health care services in clinics, noted in the Tribune that more patients are finding it difficult to pay for care. Nevertheless, the company anticipates hiring about 1,500 people this year.

In Maine, at least seven hospitals have announced plans to cut costs by eliminating services, freezing salaries, and laying off workers. But despite the cutbacks, Maine Medical Center, the state's largest hospital, said that it had 300 positions to fill, ranging from nursing assistants to laundry staff.

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