As the baby boomer generation moves into its silver years, there have been a number of shifts in the American population. Among these is the substantial rise in the number of healthcare professionals who are needed in order to tackle the demands of aging baby boomers who want to maintain their quality of life for as long as possible. Over the next several years, in fact, healthcare jobs are expected to grow more than 2% per year, making healthcare one of the most recession-proof jobs in America.
In many facilities, there are always openings for qualified healthcare professionals. In spite of the best efforts of the staff to keep them full, there’s always at least a handful of positions open. Over the last decade, many facilities have turned to marketing in high schools in order to increase interest in healthcare professions and encourage students to enter the field. Aging baby boomers continue to experience larger numbers of health problems, which means that jobs in healthcare will become even more widely available. This rising opportunity should be good news to the current generation of graduates and even millennials who are hoping to make a career change: this is one field in which positions are likely to always be open. Not only that, there are a large percentage of baby boomers currently working in the medical field–and when they retire, someone will have to fill those positions.
Increasing Geriatric Competency
The medical community has been forced, as the number of baby boomers reaching 65 increases, to acknowledge the increased need for competency in geriatric medicine. More than 26 geriatric competencies have been identified, including:
- How age impacts the dosage of medications and what medications can be prescribed.
- How to recognize warning signs of dementia.
- How to discuss palliative care with patients and their families.
- Emergency competencies that acknowledge the different ways geriatric patients may deal with falls, injuries, and illness when compared with younger patients.
- Psychological assessment protocols that differentiate between elderly patients and younger ones and help psychologists and psychiatrists determine what issues may be faced by elderly patients.
These increased competencies ensure that when elderly patients receive treatment, they are receiving quality treatment from a capable doctor who understands the unique needs faced by these elderly patients.
As elderly patients continue to increase, many medical students also find themselves facing new specialty options. Many careers, from psychology to dentistry, offer specializations that allow their members to work more closely with elderly patients. More patients over the age of 65 means a higher amount of demand for these critical positions. For students in medical fields who are hoping to find rewarding careers in their fields, these specialties could be a great way to move into a better position.
The aging of the population has created a number of concerns in many industries. High percentages of baby boomers aging might mean increased jobs in healthcare, but it also means an increased demand on an already-stressed system. By preparing to enter this field and work with this critical segment of the population, medical professionals can help shift some of the burden of an aging population and increase baby boomers’ ability to live full, active lives.