Following a year with unprecedented clinical demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of career roles in health care are experiencing immense growth and present a strong career outlook moving forward. Health care career professionals in these positions play an important role in the care of patients across the country, who rely on them to heal injuries and conditions, and to support overall wellness. For learners looking to enter the medical field in 2021, the following eight career roles in healthcare would be an excellent choice to ensure job security.
A Dental Assistant is a healthcare professional who works to complete a number of basic clerical and patient care tasks related to dental hygiene and wellness. Under the supervision of a Dentist, these professionals can complete interventions such as to prepare patients for treatments and procedures, sterilize instruments, ensure patient comfort, hand instruments to Dentists and take X-rays. They can also apply fluoride treatments, sealants and topical anesthetic. Another important responsibility of a Dental Assistant is to educate patients on proper oral hygiene.
Employment of Dental Assistants is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, a rate which is faster than the average for all occupations. This is because peer-reviewed and ongoing research has linked oral health and general health. Therefore, demand for Dental Assistants will continue to increase as the need for preventive dental services grows.
“Honestly, I am loving my career as a Dental Assistant,” Michelle Murphy, a Dental Assistant working in Denver, Colorado, shared. “I come from a background of many trades and skills, and dental assisting is by far my favorite. I get to go to bed every night knowing that I helped someone feel better and I couldn’t ask for anything more rewarding.”
A Dispensing Optician is a healthcare professional who sells, measures, fits and dispenses prescription eyewear or contact lenses (class I medical devices) based on a prescription provided by an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist. These professionals are responsible for helping customers select the right lens material and design based on their prescription and an appropriate frame based on their facial profile. This process includes taking the necessary measurements of their eyes and face while reviewing their prescription needs to help them choose an ideal pair of glasses.
Employment of Dispensing Opticians is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 driven by growth in the older population is leading this growth, because seniors require greater provision of eye care services. This is because as individuals age, they often experience more eye care problems and require interventions. An increasing rate of chronic disease (like diabetes) is also contributing to this employment growth, because some chronic diseases cause vision problems. Greater awareness regarding these issues and accessibility to eye care professionals such as Dispensing Opticians are additionally leading to increased demand.
“If you are a state-licensed Dispensing Optician in my state of Tennessee, I would say finding an opportunity as a Dispensing Optician is really as easy as just applying,” Matthew Townsend, a Dispensing Optician at the Walmart Vision Center in Jackson, Tennessee, explained.
A Medical Assistant is a healthcare professional responsible for completing administrative and clinical tasks for healthcare facilities and providers. These medical workers take and record confidential patient information using electronic health records and are only allowed to discuss this information with other professionals who are helping to treat the patient in question.Therefore, to become a successful Medical Assistant, professionals should be able to use electronic health records to record patient history and data, measure vital signs and help physicians perform patient examinations as needed.
Medical Assistant employment is projected to grow 19% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to increase demand for these preventive medical services. As a result, Physicians will need to hire more Medical Assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties that help medical facilities to operate effectively and efficiently.
“One of the greatest parts of entering medical assisting is that this career in healthcare can be an entry point to other nursing and patient care positions,” Erika Spalty, CMA, a Certified Medical Assistant in South Carolina, said.
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) whose goal is to provide specialty care to patients. This care includes determining the most effective ways to improve or manage a patient’s overall well-being, while at the same time actively working toward proper diagnoses. These are highly skilled, versatile professionals who help coordinate patient care and discuss health education and best practices with patients.
Overall employment of Nurse Practitioners is projected to grow 45% from 2019 to 2029. Growth will occur because of an increase in the demand for healthcare services, including an increased emphasis on preventive care. From preventive and primary care, NPs will be especially in demand in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas.
“Nurse Practitioners are caretakers and as such are excellent Clinicians,” explained Penni Vachon, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CLR-Ch, a Nurse Practitioner practicing in South Carolina. “In one day, I may see someone for a women’s wellness visit or a child with a respiratory virus. The possibilities are truly endless.”
A Pharmacy Technician is a healthcare professional who is able to perform a number of pharmacy-related functions under the supervision and leadership of a licensed Pharmacist. Included in these functions, Pharmacy Techs can compound or mix some medications, call Family Physicians to authorize prescription refills and operate automated dispensing equipment. However, a Pharmacist must review all prescriptions before they are given to patients. Pharmacy Technicians should not be confused with the role of a Pharmacy Aide, which tends to hold less responsibility.
Employment of Pharmacy Technicians is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. As a large portion of the population reaches a certain age, these older people will tend to require more prescription medicines than younger people. Higher rates of chronic disease among all age groups are also expected to lead to increased demand for prescription medications. Simultaneously, advances in pharmaceutical research will allow for more prescription medications to be used to fight diseases.
“Thus far my career as a Pharmacy Technician has been quite interesting, and I have learned so much from the hands on experience,” explained Lynn Price, CPhT, a Certified Pharmacy Technician in Michigan. “I found the work to be challenging and enjoyable in equal measure.”
The responsibilities of a Phlebotomist include drawing blood from patients for a number of reasons, including testing, transfusions, research or blood donations. As part of their responsibilities, these professionals may need to explain what they will be doing to patients, advise them on possible reactions after their blood is drawn or provide immediate assistance if a reaction occurs. After blood has been drawn, Phlebotomists will label each tube of blood, enter the patient’s information into a database, dispose of needles and maintain instruments.
Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 17% from 2019 to 2029 as hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations need more of these professionals to perform blood work. The demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require blood work for analysis and diagnosis. In addition to blood analysis, Phlebotomists are necessary for blood collection, either at mobile blood centers or dedicated donation centers. These professionals may be especially busy during a health emergency, which can correspond with heightened interest in blood donations.
“My career as a Phlebotomist so far has been exciting, challenging and rewarding,” Aaron Ewell, CNA, CPT, a Phlebotomist practicing in Nevada, said. “I started as a mobile Phlebotomist working at blood drives in eastern Virginia, and now I work in a plasma center in Las Vegas.”
Physical Therapist Assistant
A Physical Therapist Assistant works under the supervision of a Physical Therapist to provide therapy treatments and procedures to patients needing to regain movement or manage pain. They also observe patients before, during and after therapies, recording the information and reporting it to the Physical Therapist. In accordance with State laws, Physical Therapist Assistants may help to develop treatment plans, carry out routine functions and modify specific treatments as needed.
Employment of Physical Therapist Assistants is projected to grow 33% from 2019 to 2029, a much faster rate than the average for all occupations. Demand for these professionals is expected to increase in response to the health needs of an aging population, particularly the large baby-boom generation. There will be a greater need for Physical Therapist Assistants to help patients maintain mobility and manage the effects of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
“My career as a Physical Therapist Assistant has been rewarding, a learning process and dynamic,” Monique Beeko, a PTA practicing in Rockville, Maryland, said. “I have enjoyed every experience. There is nothing like seeing your patient/client go from being wheelchair bound to walking and getting back into their favorite activity even if it is modified, and that brings joy to me.”
A Registered Nurse (RN) is a healthcare professional responsible for providing holistic patient care, which includes patient education and emotional support. RNs assess patients, record vital signs and symptoms, develop treatment plans, assess injuries and illnesses and consult with other healthcare professionals. They use their knowledge to teach patients how to manage various acute and chronic conditions and use at-home treatments.
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. Growth will occur for a number of reasons including an aging population and the need to educate and care for patients with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. Financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients as soon as possible may also result in more people being admitted to long-term care facilities and outpatient care centers, requiring additional Registered Nurses.
“A career in nursing is certainly very rewarding,” Lindsey Brust, RN, a Registered Nurse practicing in Pennsylvania said. “Most days are tough and the work never ends. As Registered Nurses, we are there to witness miracles in life and death. We build emotional connections with patients, families and co-workers.” Nurses usually state that their first priority is to reduce a patient’s pain.