Health care is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. With this growth, comes a high demand for skilled workers. Many people think mainly of doctors and nurses when they think of the health care field, but there are many other types of high demand medical careers.
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In the United States there is a severe shortage of trained health care workers and not just in the field of nursing. According to a study by the National Association for Health Care Recruiters (NAHCR), the vacancy rate for nursing positions is just more than 10%. However, the rate for rehabiliation professionals (speech and physical therapists) is 20.8%. Hospitals often have difficulty filling vacancies, which can ultimately force them to cut services or the number of patients they can accommodate in an effort to maintain the same level of care with less staff.
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High demand medical careers include nursing and a range of allied health fields. The most in-demand fields include DMI (digital medical imaging), respiratory therapy, speech-language pathology, physiotherapy, home health aides, medical and dental assisting, social work and occupational therapy.
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The training and educational requirements for these various high demand fields vary greatly, and you should choose a career that matches your particular skill set, interests and lifestyle. Home health aides and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) are jobs that require only a short six to 12 week course in order to earn certification, and they do not require any college education. In contrast, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy are careers that entail schooling beyond a bachelor's degree, followed by a practicum or internship. This can translate into six years of postsecondary education before you would be working. However, the training for the majority of allied health careers, such as respiratory therapy and physiotherapy assisting, only require a two year associates degree and the successful completion of a written and practical licensing exam.
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Because there is a shortage of qualified health care professionals, now is an excellent time to enter this field. Many employers are offering incentives to candidates who fill in vacancies in high-demand areas. Such benefits may include sign-on bonuses, shift differentials, paid tuition for further education and excellent benefits packages. Job security is excellent in these careers, and job-seekers have flexibility in choosing where to live because there are jobs available in every geographic region.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), jobs in health care are expected to increase by 22% between the year 2009 and 2016. The majority of these jobs will be in the hospital setting, with rehabilitation, nursing and long-term care facilities in second place as the largest employers. The need for social workers to work in medical settings is particularly high, and the numbers of jobs for them is expected to increase by 47% from the year 2009 to 2017.