Nuclear Medical TechnologyThe outlook for health care jobs in 2020 is looking good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases projections on where jobs may be created or lost in the next decade. Several health care jobs where degrees are offered in the School of Health Professions can expect to see an increase in the next decade.

Diagnostic–related technologists such as Nuclear Medicine Technologists, Cytologists and Clinical Laboratory Scientists will see the highest increase at 37 percent or nearly 26,700 jobs added.

“New radiopharmaceuticals are being approved by the Federal Drug Administration for Alzheimer’s screening and Parkinson’s disease,” said Norman E. Bolus, MSPH, MPH, CNMT, director of the Nuclear Medicine Technology program. “There is also increased dual modality imaging such as SPECT/CT, PET/CT and PET/MRI that is advancing our field in molecular imaging.”

Physician assistants are also predicted to increase by more than 37 percent or 16,900 jobs.

“A national workforce task force predicts there will be a shortage of 100,000 primary care physicians by 2020,” said Patricia R. Jennings, DrPH, PA-C, director of the Physician Assistant program. “Physician Assistants are primed to fill those needs.”

Medical records and health information technicians are expected to see more than a 30 percent increase or nearly 13,000 new jobs.  Eta Berner, Ed.D., professor of Health Informatics in the Department of Health Services Administration, said the government is promoting the use of electronic health records, but technology alone will not achieve the goals of quality improvement and reduced cost that are envisioned for these new systems.

“A skilled workforce that understands how to implement and properly use the new technology is needed,” said Berner. “Educational programs in health informatics, health information management and health information technology are essential for preparing that workforce.”

Physical_TherapyOccupational and physical therapists will see a nearly 31 percent increase or 5,600 added jobs. Faculty members agree the aging population plays a huge factor in these numbers as well as health care reform.

“Older adults desire to remain active and live in their home, and occupational therapists can provide strategies, equipment, education and other interventions to assist them in doing so,” said Kathleen T. Foley, Ph.D., OTR/L, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. “With the proposed health care reform, these services will be provided outside the traditional medical setting and move to the home and community environments.”

Staying in Alabama would be a huge benefit for future physical therapists.

“Alabama ranks 50 for the number of physical therapists per capita,” said Sharon Shaw, PT, DrPH, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Since there are fewer PT’s to serve the state population, the job market is excellent and will continue to be good for the future.”

Respiratory Therapists are expected to grow by 21 percent because of the increasing demand from substantial growth in the middle-aged and elderly population.

"The aging population will heighten the incidence of cardiopulmanary disease," said Wesley M. Granger, Ph.D., RRT, FAARC, director of the Respiratory Therapy program. "Growth in demand also will result from the expanding role of respiratory therapists in case management, disease prevention, emergency care and the early detection of pulmonary disorders."