As Baby Boomers age into retirementby the millions each year, their growing health care needs require morepeople to administer that care.
That makes fields such as nursingone of the fastest-growing occupations, and hospitals are hiring now toprepare for what's to come.
Central Florida Health Alliance has140 to 170 open positions a week, and almost 90% of them are for jobsthat include registered nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists andpharmacy technicians, says Holly Kolozsvary, human resources director.
Thetwo-hospital system based in Leesburg and The Villages is hiring forits peak season from January to April, when many retirees seek winterrefuge in the Florida sun. But it's also managing a trend that requiresit to employ more people year-round: More retirees aren't leaving at theend of spring, Kolozsvary says.
"It'skind of a domino effect," she says. "They move here, they're well, theyget sick, they're left here through their cancer or heart disease, andwe have to take care of them."
Jobpostings on Monster.com for positions including registered nurses,physical therapists and physician assistants rose 13% from June 2011through June 2012, according to a 2012 health occupational report by thejob site.
The additional demand could be due partly to hospitalspreparing for the retirements of many older nurses as the economy getsbetter, increasing the need for new skilled workers. Scripps Health, agroup of five hospitals and 23 outpatient facilities in San Diego, plansto hire about 400 nurses a year over the next three years but mightneed to increase that by 200 annually because of retirements, says VicBuzachero, senior vice president for human resources. About 30% of thehospitals' nurses are older than 50.
Jamie Malneritch applied fora part-time job as a registered nurse with Scripps in March and heardfrom the hospital the same day she submitted her application. Shestarted working a month later.
The 31-year-old, who has worked as anurse for four years, says the job security and growth opportunitieswere primary drivers in her decision to go to nursing school in 2006.
"It seems like we always need more hands," she says. "Nursing is flourishing."
Withan average salary of $64,690 a year, according to 2010 data from theBureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing may be the more desiredprofession, but lower-paid home health aides are actually in higherdemand.
An industry shift that puts more emphasis on outpatientcare and home health services makes home health and personal care aidestwo of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Employment inboth positions, which have an average salary of about $20,000 a year, isexpected to grow by about 70% by 2020, BLS data show. Registerednursing is expected to grow 26%.
ResCare HomeCare, a nationalprovider and employer of home health and personal care aides, who workprimarily with seniors with chronic illnesses or disabilities, hasreceived 32,000 applications this year, a 23.3% jump from last year, andit hired 6,000 of the people who applied, about 5% more than in 2011,says Shelle Womble, senior director of sales.
Home health andpersonal care aides are generally the same, providing services such aschecking vitals, prepping meals and bathing and grooming the patient.But home health aides are funded by Medicare and, in some states,require more training, while personal care aides are funded privatelyand may require less training, Womble says.
ResCare, where aides make $22,000 to $30,000 a year, is anticipating the need for more workers in the near future.
"Rightnow, one of our key positions is that we are hiring the talent beforewe even get the clients so we can be prepared and have the staffavailable," Womble says of home health and personal care aides. "There'sa lot more competition for that type of employee."