Whether you call it Obamacare, Affordable Care or Healthcare Reform, it all means the same thing – and in October 2013, the healthcare marketplace enacted by the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will open. It will provide access to as many as 41.3 million Americans in 2014 – that’s more people than the combined population of the 23 smallest states in the U.S.
With so many people being affected, there is potential for major changes to the demand for care, and subsequently, the demand for jobs within the industry. Here’s what you need to know about how the changes could affect the job market.
Basics of the Affordable Care Act
The PPACA was signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The bill, which has been greatly debated since its introduction, is intended to reform the health care industry in four distinct ways: improved quality, decreased cost, added consumer protection and increased access to healthcare.
It remains to be seen how the whole story will shake out. What we do know is that millions of previously uninsured Americans will soon have access to healthcare, causing an increase in the number of potential patients requesting treatment from healthcare facilities. Experts believe this added demand will mean a major increase in job openings within the healthcare industry - some predict as many as 250,000 to 400,000 jobs annually over the next ten years – as well as an increase in scope and location of available jobs.
What that could mean for you: The potential for steady growth within the healthcare industry means lots of promising career options. Check out our free Healthcare Career Outlook guide for more information on the future of Health Sciences.
Growing demand for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
Nurses are expected to be one of the chief solutions to the workforce shortage because of the level of care their licensures allow them to provide. The U.S. already has a shortage of over 9,000 primary care physicians, a number that is expected to grow. Nurse practitioners (NPs), who hold graduate degrees and can perform many of the same tasks as physicians, are anticipated to fill many of these gaps.
As nurse practitioners fill in more and more for doctors, there will be additional voids within the healthcare system. It is projected that there will be 1.2 million job openings for licensed practical and registered nurses that will need to be filled by 2020. This will trickle down even further to other critical, licensed medical support staff including medical assistants, physician assistants and other patient care technicians according to Dr. Christian Wright, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Rasmussen College.
What that could mean for you: The career openings will be for a variety of levels of education and work experience. You could get a start in the industry in as little as 15 months as a medical assistant or take a little more time in school and pursue the most in-demand health care position: registered nursing.
Industry changes to increased preventative and ambulatory care
The PPACA also calls for more care to be provided outside of hospitals with specific provisions focusing on increasing the quality of preventative care. This will likely result in a major rise in demand for ambulatory, or outpatient care, according to Dr. Karlene Kerfoot, vice president of nursing at API Healthcare. At the same time, hospitals will shift to a greater focus on critical
-care patients, she says.
What that could mean for you: While you are thinking about your job search, it will be helpful to know in which setting you want to work. For example, hospitals will be staffing more critical care nurses while registered nurses and other patient care positions may have more opportunities at outpatient sites, such as clinics or other non-critical medical facilities.
Filling the healthcare workforce shortage through scholarship
One of the components of the healthcare act that is not as widely discussed but could have a huge impact on healthcare students is a provision for educational incentives. In its current form, the goal of this provision is to double the number of patients that are able to be treated in the next five years. Specifically, Title V of the PPACA, Health Care Workforce, provides education grants for:
- Primary care physicians
- Physician assistants
- Mental health providers
What that could mean for you: Perhaps you are interested in going back to school but are worried about financing. Taking a look at the loans and scholarships available for certain positions within the healthcare industry may help you narrow down the list.
To sum up…
Obamacare changes are right around the corner and subsequently there will likely be a lot of transformation happening in the healthcare industry over the next few years. With a host of options offering above-average growth, access to industry-specific educational assistance and the promise of growing demand – it could be a really exciting time to enter this well-respected industry.
If you are interested in learning more about which jobs are anticipated to grow, check out 11 of the most in-demand healthcare jobs.