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VOL. 35 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 15, 2011

Bet on medicine for job growth

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If you’re looking for a career in a growing industry – especially in the Nashville area – take a look at medicine.

The U. S. Department of Labor predicts the enormous sector will have more occupations with job growth than any other, adding an estimated 2.5 million-plus jobs to the U. S economy in the next 10 years. The good news is Nashville is considered a mecca for the industry.

It is no secret there is a national shortage of registered nurses. RNs are usually employed by hospitals but also found in physicians’ offices, clinics, nursing homes, emergency medical centers and in-home care. Duties may include preparing patients for surgery or examinations, dressing wounds, administering medications, monitoring patients’ conditions, and supervising staff. They work in many disciplines such as pediatrics, emergency room care, intensive care, orthopedics and surgery.

U. S. Department of Labor statistics show about 25 percent of all RNs have a Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited four-year college. The majority have an associate degree in nursing from a local college. A licensing exam must be taken and passed after completion.

The average salary for a RN is around $65,000. Many will receive signing bonuses and other incentives due to the shortage.

Surgical technologists, sometimes referred to as operating room technicians, also face a promising future. They assist surgeons or other surgical personnel before, during and after surgery. They may operate machinery or keep up with and handle some equipment.

Technologists are normally required to have a high school diploma, and average income is around $40,000, according to the Department of Labor.

Physician assistants work under the auspices of a medical doctor. They perform many of the duties traditionally handled by a doctor and work for hospitals, clinics and in physician offices.

Becoming a PA normally requires completing at least two years of college with some health care experience. It is followed by two years from an accredited program.

Average income for a PA is approximately $82,000.

Physical therapists furnish services to patients needing help in recovering from disease or injury. They work to help reduce pain and restore mobility. Most work in hospitals or specialized clinics.

A physical therapist must graduate from an accredited program and pass a licensing exam to practice. The U.S. Labor Department indicates the average income for a therapist at around $75,000.

Another growing career is respiratory therapists. They evaluate and treat patients with breathing maladies by measuring oxygen and CO2 levels and utilizing modern treatment therapy.

Schools that teach respiratory therapists usually offer an associate degree with registration upon completion of studies. Most states require a license to practice.

The average income for a therapist is around $55,000.

Cardiovascular technologists provide support to MDs in diagnosing and treating patients with heart or vascular problems. They specialize in vascular technology, invasive cardiology and echocardiography.

Most technologists receive training in programs lasting between two and four years. Two years of community college is often required before training begins.

The average income is approximately $50,000.

Besides these positions, there are many others that will be in demand. These include medical assistants, occupational therapists, medical records and health information technicians. Non-clinical personnel – accountants, human resource staff, buyers and administrative assistants – also will be needed in significant numbers.

M.B. Owens is a Nashville-based columnist and journalist with a decade of experience writing on employment topics and business. He can be reached at mariusowens@aol.com.

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