Careers in Health Care: Why They Never Go Out of Style

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nurses and other health care professionals is expected to grow by a whopping 23-28% between 2006 and 2016—that’s approximately triple the average growth rate, and in a job market that’s shaky in a challenged economy, that’s impressive.

There are several reasons for the heightened demand for professionals in this area. The ageing of the Baby Boom generation is a big part of it. As the U.S.’s largest demographic ages, it demands better and more qualified care—and the supply of qualified nurses, pharmacists, home health aides, and other health care professionals isn’t keeping up. In addition, as health care technology improves, patients are living longer—and needing more advanced care while they recover from injury and illness. If you’re looking for a career in an industry that will never become obsolete, health care is a solid choice.

While M.D.’s are not offered online, there are plenty of degree programs in health care that prepare you for a career that’s well-compensated and highly stable, even in troubled economies—and that can be earned online. Here are a few of your options:

Nurse

There’s a documented shortage of nurses all over the country. Reports indicate that there are over 100,000 more open positions nationwide than there are nurses to fill them. This shortage is projected to grow to as much as one million in new and replacement nurses by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To attract new nurses, many hospitals are raising pay and increasing flexibility.

While every nursing degree program will have an in-person clinical component, there are many online nursing programs in a variety of degrees—including RN’s, Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s degrees in nursing. Online degree programs are widely accepted in the industry, and most will assist remote students in finding local hospitals and facilities where they can complete the clinical components of their degrees.

Home Health Aide

These health professionals provide crucial day-to-day care to elderly and recovering patients at home. These jobs are at the forefront of the growth in health care jobs, for a variety of reasons—the increase in elderly patients who prefer to stay at home as long as possible and changes in insurance policies that allow hospitals to discharge patients sooner among them.

You can earn an Associate’s degree as a home health aide online, but in general advanced degrees are not required for entry into the profession. Still, the Federal government requires home health aides who work for employers who receive Medicare reimbursements to pass a competency test. Certification and licensing may be required in some states, and training programs may be found online.

Psychiatric Aide

These health professionals provide care for mentally impaired patients, often as part of a team including psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, therapists and psychiatric nurses. They provide day-to-day assistance including helping patients dress, bathe, and eat; they also socialize with patients and lead recreational and educational activities. Because they’re usually the most intimately involved with their patients’ day-to-day lives, they’re often the first to spot physical or behavioral changes or signals that may be critical to patient diagnosis and care.

To become a psychiatric aide, a high school diploma is generally required—as well as a Certified Nurse Assistant qualification. To become certified, you’ll have to go through approximately 50 hours of classroom training and 100 hours of hands-on clinical training and pass a certification test. Programs for certification are available online.

Health Care Administrator

There are a range of careers in the health care administration field, ranging from administrative directors at major hospitals to health care service providers at small private practices. The job requires a combination of business acumen and passion for patient care—as well as a proven ability to lead.

In smaller health care facilities, a Bachelor’s degree may be enough to land an administrative position. A Master’s or Doctoral degree in Health Administration is a common credential, however, and is commonly expected for mid-sized and larger health organizations. You can find MBA’s, Bachelor’s degrees, Associate’s degrees and certifications in health administration online at a variety of accredited schools. A program that’s been accredited by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) usually looks best to employers.

If you’re looking for a career that’s likely to pay well and always put you in demand, a career in the health care support industry is an excellent choice. Careers like these and hundreds of other positions in administrative support and hands-on clinical care never go out of style.