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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Is Healthcare Recession Proof?

Published February 27, 2009 12:21 PM by Melissa Matta

Job cuts, layoffs, hiring freezes-it's enough to frighten anyone, let alone someone looking for employment. Have you felt the strains that come with this recession we're in and does it scare you as much as it does me?

Well, there is good news. Employers are still hiring and certain industries will survive-even thrive-during these hard times. At the top of the list is healthcare (thank goodness!).

Nearly half of the 30 fastest growing jobs are in healthcare, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including registered nurses and physical therapists.


How does healthcare luck out? With an aging population and the largest healthcare spending in the world, that's how.

"Generally, you're looking for things that are necessities, not luxuries," David Wyss, chief economist of Standard & Poor's, told the Associate Press. "People get sick and need medical care regardless of the state of the economy."

Consider in Columbus, OH, where at Nationwide Children's Hospital there are plans to add 2,400 jobs. The Columbus City Council even offered a tax incentive to make sure those jobs stay in the city, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

In Oklahoma, RN jobs alone are projected to increase by 15 percent between 2006 and 2012, and radiologic technology (RT) jobs are projected to increase by 26 percent over that same period, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

Growth in healthcare jobs is expected nationwide from now until 2016. According the BLS:

  • RNs are projected to generate about 587,000 new jobs, one of the largest numbers among all occupations.
  • Employment is expected to grow much faster than average and job opportunities should be good for OTs, PTs and RTs.


Healthcare compensation benefits reflect a response to this growing need. In July 2008, Martin, Fletcher, a leading national healthcare recruiting and consultancy firm, evaluated the compensation and benefits packages of more than 1,000 allied health professionals and nurses nationwide.

Ten specialties were reviewed including: nursing/NP, CT technology, PT, OT, medical technology, speech-language pathology, RT, MRI technology, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and pharmacists. Key findings include:

  • The western region of the U.S. is one of the highest paying areas.
  • The northeastern region is one of the highest paying regions for nurses.
  • 99 percent of hospitals offered relocation benefits, with an average stipend of $5,280.
  • 88 percent of hospitals paid signing bonuses, averaging $7,500.
  • Full college loan forgiveness was made available to 40 percent of nurses, CRNAs and pharmacists.
  • 88 percent of allied health professionals and nurses were offered full health insurance.

This is not to say the job search will be easy and that every job market is a good one. Healthcare is impacted by the economy. However, in the long run, while it's difficult to predict how the economy will turn, you can be fairly confident healthcare jobs will exist with wages to match.

Melissa Matta is editor of ADVANCE for Healthcare Careers.



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