Things did not look all that good for a hospital hiring at the start of 2015. Industry experts were predicting that hospital hiring would be stagnant even as other sectors of the industry, most notably assisted living and home-based services, would add more jobs to the economy. Yet new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) paint a very different picture among the nation’s hospitals. According to the BLS, hospital hiring still leads the entire industry.
Healthcare added some 34,400 jobs in September alone. The BLS says 15,500 of those jobs were created by hospitals. Indeed, hospitals have added more than 117,000 jobs since the start of the year. The only question is, will it last? Can the nation’s hospitals continue their frenetic hiring through the end of the year and into next?
Influence of Health Insurance
Modern Healthcare’s Michael Sandler attributes much of the continued growth at hospitals to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The experts he has spoken to suggest that increasing numbers of Americans now have health insurance but, rather than becoming new patients of individual doctors or doctor groups, they are choosing to receive their primary care through the local hospital. This makes complete sense.
What needs to be understood is that people who have traditionally not had health insurance are also not likely to have established relationships with primary care physicians. They have spent their lives accessing healthcare on an as-needed basis. For some, that means going to the doctor only once every couple of years when a significant problem arises. For others, that means visiting the local clinic where reduced cost services are available.
These kinds of patients are less likely to be concerned about finding a primary care physician with whom they can build a long-lasting relationship. They are much more content to go down to the hospital if, and when, they need care. Hospitals are responding by adding more hospitalist doctors, nursing staff, and allied health professionals.
Stabilization Will Eventually Arrive
Few industry experts believe that hospitals will continue to lead healthcare hiring in perpetuity. At some point, market stabilization will arrive on the scene. The vast majority of Americans will fall into a routine that largely determines how they will receive routine healthcare regardless of the provider they choose to seek it from. At that point, the demand on the nation’s hospitals will stabilize as well.
How long all of this takes remains to be seen. We have still not experienced the full impact of the ACA, nor will we see that impact for years to come. It is entirely possible that hospital hiring will remain at the top of the industry list through next year and into 2017. It is also possible that hiring could drop off at the end of this year while hospitals step back and reassess through the first two quarters of 2016.
Taking Advantage of the Current Environment
Health professionals interested in developing hospital careers would do well to take advantage of the current hiring environment. As long as hospitals are adding tens of thousands of healthcare jobs every month, one might as well take advantage of their willingness to hire.
Now would be a good time to seriously look at a career as a hospitalist, an emergency department doctor or nurse, a hospital-based allied healthcare worker, or an entry-level support worker looking to get a foothold in the industry. If you already work for a hospital, you are among a group of professionals working in the most stable sector of the healthcare industry.