Healthcare Industry Update: Salaries and Hotspots
The world has over 60 million healthcare workers, which includes a wide range of people – such as doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, as well as management and support workers like hospital managers and financial officers. About two-thirds of healthcare workers provide health services, while the remaining one-third are management and support professionals.
A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that the world needs at least 7.2 million more nurses, midwives and doctors right now. There is a severe shortage of healthcare personnel, thanks to an aging workforce, fewer young people entering the profession, and insufficient use of workers like midwives and nurses. The deficit is set to increase to 12.9 million by 2035!
The WHO says that 57 countries – many of them in Asia and Africa – currently face a healthcare worker “crisis.” It is estimated that there is an urgent need of 2360 thousand healthcare professionals and 1890 thousand health administrative support workers to fill this gap.
A career in this industry offers job security, stability and often, rapid growth. The sector offers jobs at all levels, for those with a high-school qualification, to doctors and surgeons, right up to those with an advanced qualification or a Master’s degree in planning and administration.
Where the demand is at
In terms of geography, there is high demand for health professionals in high-income, developed countries, because the system there depends heavily on doctors, nurses and health workers who have been trained abroad.
Over the past three decades, the number of expat health professionals in many European countries increased by over 5% per year. 20% of doctors in the developed OECD countries – such as the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Japan – come from abroad. Nurses from the Philippines (110K) and doctors from India (56K) account for the largest share of migrant health workforce in OECD countries. In the Middle East, 50% of healthcare professionals in countries like Kuwait and the UAE are migrants.
The increase in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and strokes also puts pressure on healthcare systems. The WHO recommends maximizing employees at the community healthcare worker and mid-career levels. Even though many countries are working to increase their health workforce, the rate of training new professionals is falling well below the current and projected demand. At this rate, developed countries are expected to lose 40% of their nurses over the next decade.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 8 of the top 20 fastest growing professions in the country are in the healthcare industry. Overall, the healthcare industry accounts for 14 million jobs in America. In October 2013, employment in healthcare in the US increased by 15,000 over the past month while, on average, 17,000 new jobs have been added in this sector each month, all through 2013.
The US faces a critical shortage of healthcare workers, and this problem is set to exacerbate over the coming years. One of four physicians in the US was born in some other country. The 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are already in their 60s. This, at a time, when as many as 30-50% of doctors and nurses will themselves retire. The new Affordable Care Act means that more people will be able to afford healthcare, in the form of routine checkups, immunization, screenings, and to have minor health issues rectified.
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the US will need 60,000 additional physicians by 2015. With this, worker shortage will cause even longer delays in treatment. There is an impetus to offer incentives and bonuses to attract talent, especially nurses, who now shoulder an increasing burden of the responsibility. The lack of trained workforce also makes the US a great destination for older healthcare professionals who can command higher salaries and stay on past standard retirement age.
In 2011, the median wage for a registered nurse in the US was $65,950. At the top level, salaries for nurses touched $96,630 per year, with the highest wages reserved for personal care nurses, or those working for private-sector pharmaceutical or medical-device manufacturers. Medical assistants and paramedics earn less than nurses do, which makes nursing an attractive career in healthcare.
Despite the economic crisis in Europe, there is huge demand for healthcare workers across the continent. In a statement, Laszlo Andor, the EU’s top employment official said: “The latest report confirms that healthcare is one of the sectors with the greatest potential for job creation in Europe…”
The countries with the biggest increase in overall job vacancies in Europe are Latvia and Lithuania, followed by Estonia, the UK and Romania. The reason for the increase in vacancies in healthcare is the aging population, advances in technology, a trend toward better quality of service and an emphasis on preventive care, according to Jonathan Todd, European Commission spokesman on unemployment issues.
In a paper released last year, the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore outlined the projection for foreign manpower demand for the healthcare sector. Over the past 30 years, life expectancy in the country has increased by 10 years, from 72 years in 1980, to 82 years in 2011. This aging population requires care, at home and in hospitals. Which is why, in 2011, there were 13,000 foreign healthcare workers in Singapore – out of a total workforce of 50,000.
The country is working to enhance job scope and pay to attract foreign workers. Public healthcare institutions too run initiatives to help assimilation of the foreign workforce through local language classes such as in Mandarin, Malay and various dialects, to help improve communication with non English-speaking patients.
In addition, there is scope for Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) who provide home care for children and the elderly. In 2011, 12% of elderly non-working resident households in Singapore had at least one FDW, making a total of 198K FDW across the country.
According to the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan will need 500 thousand caregivers by 2016. The country already taps Asian countries like Indonesia and Philippines to meet the huge demand. Cultural differences and the Japanese language make it difficult for nurses and caregivers to make a successful transition to this country. However, this also makes those with these skills even more valuable and able to command higher pay. The Japanese government has promised to modify their employment schemes to attract foreign applicants and to make their licensure exam easier to pass. Those who pass the national licensure exam have the option to stay in the country for an unlimited period of time. The average monthly salary for a nurse in Japan is between US $1500 to $2600, and for caregivers it ranges from $1460 to $2200.
Emerging trends in healthcare
Careers in healthcare tend to offer great job security. Advanced education is not a requirement for many careers, though specialized training is often mandatory. Other than qualified doctors, the following profiles are in demand:
- Dental hygienist
- Assistant physical therapist
- Veterinary technician
- Medical transcriptionist
- Pharmacy technician
Thanks to advances in medicine and an aging population in various pockets of the world, demand for quality healthcare is on the rise. Emerging economies are the new growth markets for healthcare providers, while in developed countries an aging population requires focus on chronic diseases. Patients are asking for personalized medicine and wish to play an active role in the care they receive.
Professionals with bilingual skills are in demand everywhere.
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