Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2014: April 21-25
Medical laboratory professionals do most of their work behind the scenes. They typically don't work directly with patients, but the results of lab professionals' work often determine up to 70 percent of all medical decisions.
If you seek a high-impact health career that combines technology and life science, yet doesn't require frequent patient interaction, a career in a medical lab may be a great fit for you! If you seek a career in a medical lab, you could join a workforce of more than 300,000 workers at a variety of education levels and pay ranges.
Is healthcare hiring coming back to life after a disastrous few months?
It's not quite back to its glory days, but a gain of 19,000 jobs in March is promising. Perhaps it's safe to remain cautiously optimistic?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly employment situation update today, and while hospital hiring is still a bit sluggish, ambulatory care added the majority of new jobs.
Hospitals grew by just 4,000 jobs in March, after having lost about 10,000 over the previous three months.
Among ambulatory care settings, home health care grew the most in March, adding 8,500 jobs. Medical offices and outpatient care centers each added about 4,000 new jobs for the month, according to the BLS.
Offsetting the hospitals' 4,000 new jobs, was a loss of 4,000 jobs in nursing care and residential care facilities.
The unemployment rate for healthcare is at 4.0 percent, down from 5.0 percent in March of 2013. Meanwhile, the nation's overall unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent with an addition of 192,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.
April is Stress Awareness Month, and one major source of stress is often one's career. Healthcare professionals deal with many stressful situations at work, and it can be difficult to decompress and avoid carrying the stress home after hours.
Long hours, sick patients, worried family members, increasing workloads, and staff cutbacks are just a few things that may contribute to the level of stress healthcare workers experience on a regular basis. Sometimes stress can become so overwhelming that healthcare professionals may even experience complete burn-out. Or, stress may lead to physical health problems that could also impact your career and life.
How do you prevent job-related stress from having serious repercussions on your personal and professional life?
- Tips for Managing Job-Related Stress (Based on input from healthcare professionals)
- Volunteering Relieves Stress in Healthcare Professionals
- About.com Guide to Stress
One of the most common questions I receive from readers is: "which healthcare professionals are getting hired the most"? Readers and job seekers often want to know which health careers offer the most stability.
Industry demand changes from time to time, but a few trends have been holding up over the past few years. This week, Modern Healthcare outlined several "hot hiring areas" within the healthcare field that are remaining strong due to industry trends and changes.
Many of these areas are ones I've highlighted here in recent months as being most "in demand" among health careers. According to this week's Modern Healthcare article, the following are a few types of healthcare professionals that are most needed by many employers today and in the near future:
In addition to those professional roles, the following skill sets are also being sought by many hospital systems and healthcare employers, according to Modern Healthcare:
- Management and leadership - especially nurse managers and physician leaders
- Problem solving
- Conflict resolution
- Strategic planning
April is Occupational Therapy Month, so it is a great time to explore careers in this field, as well as recognize and promote the field of Occupational Therapy (OT).
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) provides a variety of tools and resources for making Occupational Therapy Month a success and increasing awareness.
Included in the AOTA's list of 10 Things You Can Do to Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month are a few simple ideas such as how to advertise, or hold a contest to promote awareness of the important role occupational therapists, OT assistants, and OT nurses play in healthcare, and the impact of occupational therapy on so many people who benefit from it.
The AOTA also provides an OT month toolkit, sample press release, and resources and fact sheet regarding this year's theme of Autism. Occupational therapy plays an important role in the treatment and therapy for those with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) and helping people with ASD to live fuller, richer lives.
A recent article in Healthcare Finance News describes the medical device market as "lukewarm" for 2014. The news isn't all bad, as some growth is predicted, which is better than declining or zero growth. The article is based upon projections from Standard & Poor's, which foresees single digit growth in the medical device market for this year.
The sectors within the medical device market that are projected to be the strongest are endovascular, atrial fibrillation (heart rhythm devices), and neuromodulation.
The areas that are expected to remain weaker are spine devices and drug eluting stents (used in cardiovascular procedures to keep arteries open).
Industry analysts also expect many mergers and acquisitions throughout the year, particularly with global markets where some emerging markets are seeing double-digit growth with new products addressing new patient populations, according to Healthcare Finance News.
Additionally, many medical device company executives blame the 2.3 percent medical device tax (via the Affordable Care Act) for slowed growth in the industry this year. The tax went into effect on January 1, 2013.
"If you had to do it over, would you pick the same specialty?"
This is the question answered earlier this month by nearly 3,000 physicians via Sermo, an online community exclusively for physicians. During the process of becoming a physician, future doctors must make numerous tough decisions: where to attend medical school... what type of medical school to attend, (allopathic vs. osteopathic?)... international medical school or American medical school?
In addition to all of these decisions, doctors must also figure out which medical specialty they want to practice. Compensation and lifestyle vary greatly among the different types of doctors, due to reimbursements and on-call schedules of various medical specialties.
The study found that the most satisfied physicians are:
And the least happy with their choice of specialty are:
This does not bode well for the field of primary care, which is experiencing a current surge in demand.
How do young doctors decide their path for medical specialty? "Overall, the vetting process during the training years seems to work well for most [future doctors]," states a representative from Sermo in a press release. "A large majority [of physicians surveyed], 74 percent, would choose their specialty over again. That suggest that physician candidates are receiving good information and being steered properly by mentors."
The release continues "some young physicians admit to choosing a path other than their preferred specialty because of financial concerns with longer training periods. Since the average physician enters the workforce with just over $300,000 in debt, [future doctors] have a right to be concerned. Others shy away from less lucrative salaries for specialties known for making more money."
Salary ranges among physicians can vary by specialty from $150,000 to over $450,000 per year, a significant difference, especially when factored over an average career of 36 years of medical practice.
There is good news, and bad news in today's employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The good news is: the healthcare industry added 9,500 jobs in February. The bad news is: healthcare only added 9,500 jobs in February, after two consecutive months of net job losses.
Furthermore, in the past three months, hospitals have shed 10,000 jobs, including 1,200 lost in February.
Ambulatory care is faring a little better, with a net gain of about 8,400 jobs in February, 8,200 of which were in physician offices, and 1,500 were in outpatient care centers.
Even home health care, one of the more rapidly growing sectors of healthcare, lost 3,800 jobs in February.
Clearly, such minimal growth is not enough to compensate for the historic healthcare job losses the previous two months. Even so, the unemployment rate for the healthcare industry is at just 4.0 percent, down from 5.3 percent this time last year. (The nation's overall unemployment rate edged up a bit to 6.7 percent in February.)
Perhaps the tiny bit of healthcare job growth in February is a sign of a little bit of momentum in healthcare hiring? Despite the recent job losses, the healthcare industry still remains one of the largest employment sectors, if not the largest, in the country.
- 9 Common Health Career Questions (and Answers)
- 6 Emerging, Evolving, and/or Growing Health Careers
- Health Careers in Greatest Demand
- Highest Paying Health Careers
Every February is Therapeutic Recreation Month, according to the National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), a non-profit organization representing over 12,000 certified therapeutic recreation specialists practicing in a variety of settings including healthcare and human services.
According to the NCTRC, recreational therapy is valuable because it provides the following benefits:
- Improves quality of life
- Increases independence
- Focuses on health promotion
- Promotes valued health care outcomes
Recreational therapists lead a variety of group or individual activities such as swimming, exercising, dancing, singing, etc. to improve the physical, emotional, and social well-being of their clients, students, and/or patients. Therapeutic recreation benefits people of all ages in a variety of settings including hospitals, government programs, residential care facilities, schools, and more. If this career sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to become a recreational therapist and what the job entails and pays, in a new career overview of recreational therapy.
One thing they don't teach you in nursing school is how to protect your nursing license from possible suspension or revocation. A nursing career takes years to obtain and build, but can be lost in a matter of minutes. Many nurses think that a license dispute or board action could never happen to them. As a nurse, you may think that a license dispute is something that only happens to other people.
However, one nurse-turned-legal-expert warns that every nurse is vulnerable to a potential license issue or dispute. Thousands of licenses are suspended or revoked each year in the U.S. A split-second lapse of judgment, a simple mistake, or a even a basic miscommunication with a patient or other health professional can result in an infraction or perceived infraction, and subsequent disciplinary action.
Lorie Brown, a former R.N., has represented hundreds of nurses fighting license suspension or revocation. She outlines several cases and provides advice and tips for nurses in her book "Law and Order for Nurses." Now a lawyer specializing in nursing license disputes, Brown provided several tips for a new article to help nurses and About Health Careers readers prevent license issues to keep their licenses in good standing.