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The field of health and nursing is one of the largest in the US today. With more than 14.3 million individuals currently employed in this area, health and nursing are home to 10 of the 20 fastest growing professions in the country. In addition to being one of the largest fields for employment, health and nursing includes a wide range of professionals that posses different levels of education. While some health and nursing professionals must obtain Bachelors or professional degrees to perform their jobs, others require only a certificate or Associates Degree. Health and nursing represent the intersection of technology and human interaction. Healthcare professionals are responsible for caring for individuals across the entire lifespan from birth to death.
In order to grasp the size and scope of the health and nursing industry, classifications of health and nursing organizations have been used. Among the most common classifications for the health and nursing industry are the following:
• Hospitals: These facilities provide inpatient (overnight) and outpatient treatment in a number of areas.
• Nursing and Residential Care: Care provided at these facilities focuses primary on rehabilitation and nursing services. Patients receiving care in nursing and residential care do not require hospital services.
• Physician Offices: Physicians offices provide care to patients in a non-emergency setting. Visits are scheduled and care is provided based on ongoing management of patient health.
• Home Healthcare Services: These services are delivered by nurses directly to patients in their home. Services are often provided under the supervision of a physician.
Careers in health and nursing encompass a number of different positions that can be broadly classified as: professional, service, administrative or management. Individuals working in professional health and nursing careers are those that are highly trained to evaluate and diagnose patients. Physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are all professional positions in health and nursing care organizations. Service positions are those that involve direct service or care provided to the patient. For instance, nursing assistants that help bathe and feed patients and technicians that are responsible for radiography and phlebotomy are classified as service professionals in the health organization.
Administrative positions in health and nursing include clerical and office staff members who are responsible for scheduling appointments, submitting insurance company claims and maintaining healthcare offices on a day-to-day basis. Management positions in health and nursing include positions such as department managers, nurse managers and executives in the healthcare organizations. Individuals in these positions oversee the larger operations of the health or nursing organization to provide basic guidance with regard to services for patients, cost management and business development. Health and nursing also includes support personnel that provide services in specific areas such as social work, dentists and physical and occupational therapists.
Because of the wide breadth of positions included in health and nursing professions, the salary ranges for positions vary quite significantly. Individuals classified as professionals and working in healthcare organizations are typically required to have advanced training and education. For instance, physicians typically complete undergraduate education (Bachelors Degree), medical school and a residency before practicing medicine. As a result of this training and education, physicians command higher salaries than administrative support staff members who may have only completed certificate training at a business school. Additionally, all health professionals employed in hospital settings will have higher earnings than those in other types of healthcare settings. This is due to the fact that hospitals generate higher levels of revenue than other types of health services organizations. Earnings for health professionals are typically noted by hourly rate as many professionals in the field work fewer than 40 hours per week. Registered nurses for instance, earn $30.71 per hour in hospital settings while medical assistants earn $14.21 per hour in the same healthcare environment. Administrative personnel earn, on average, $13.33 per hour in a hospital setting. Nursing aides working in hospitals earn, on average, $11.58 per hour while maids and housekeeping staff earn $10.28 per hour.
In terms of overall growth rate, the health and nursing industry is expected to be one of the fastest growing industries in the US. By 2018, the industry will generate more than 3.2 million new jobs. Much of the growth in this industry will be fueled by the aging of the Baby Boomer population. Over the course of the next 15 years, 78 million Americans are projected to reach the age of retirement (i.e., 65 years of age). As the number of elderly in the US grows, health and nursing support will be required to support all health services activities. Aging of the Baby Boomer population will also result in a number of retirements from the healthcare industry. Many nurses currently working in the field are over the age of 55. Because of the high demand that will occur in health and nursing, wages and salaries for individuals seeking careers in this industry are projected to grow by 22 percent by 2018. Total salary growth in all other professions is projected to be 11 percent, suggesting substantial wage and salary growth in health and nursing. Growth in the industry is anticipated to be slower in hospitals and more significant in less developed areas of health and nursing care, e.g., home health services.