Why Should I Consider Earning a Graduate Degree in Health Care?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), has released data predicting that the health care industry will generate 5.6 million jobs between now and 2020 at an annual growth rate of 3%. One reason for this high rate of estimated growth is the aging of an entire generation. By 2030, 78 million baby boomers will be at least 65 years old – a milestone that is projected to place a high demand upon the health care industry.
In addition to the widespread retirement and treatment of aging patients, the health care industry is anticipated to be affected by the retirement of 24,000 doctors and almost one million nurses. That said, the education of new nurses and other health care professionals is essential to resolving the growing gap between patients’ needs and health care services available to them.
Many areas in the U.S. already suffer from a shortage of doctors, nurses, and family practitioners. Such shortages have led to state and national initiatives to fund education for students within the health care industry, especially for those who can directly serve and treat patients. One such program is the federally funded NURSE Corps scholarship program that offers tuition compensation in return for a professional commitment in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Another factor affecting the health care service shortage is new 2012 legislation. The Affordable Care Act has granted insurance to an additional 32 million Americans, and the shortages that were being predicted prior to the law are now expected to increase substantially by 2025.
The health care industry is not only anticipated to grow twice as fast as the national economy, it is diversifying as well. Changes in the national health care system are opening up new positions to satisfy new requirements. To ensure high-quality patient satisfaction and security, positions in patient experience, patient rights, and informatics are in demand.
In many health care fields, obtaining a master’s degree is necessary to work in a specialized field or obtain an entry-level position. This is true for counselors and psychologists, as well as nurses who would like to obtain positions in management or a specialty field. While advanced degrees are not necessary in some instances, such as for RNs, BNs, or health care administrators, the diversification of the health care industry will demand more specialized skills from employees. Earning a master’s degree is an excellent path to becoming an indispensible part of the new health care industry.
In most cases, earning a master’s degree in health care will significantly increase a health care professional’s earning potential. For example, the 2010 average pay for an RN was listed by the BLS at $69,110, while family practitioners reportedly earned $177,330.