The healthcare industry is poised to continue its growth in 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the industry as a whole will grow 18 percent by 2026, and healthcare workers across all functions can expect to see opportunities increase as a result. Breakthroughs in science, technology and information management will continue to disrupt the space and change the way we manage, monitor and administer care. Patient experience has also risen to the forefront, with new technologies like patient-accessible apps, portals and even self-check-in kiosks, creating more efficient, personalized care environments.

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More than 14.3 million people are employed in the healthcare industry, and it's projected that 3.2 million new healthcare-related jobs will be created over the next eight years.

Meanwhile, the aging baby boomer population and the rapid rise of ambulatory care centers continue to be primary drivers of healthcare industry growth, increasing the need for healthcare support workers and clinical practitioners across the sector.

While demand will be felt across all areas of the industry, these positions especially will be most sought-after in 2019:

clinical roles

nurse practitioners

Greater emphasis on preventative care is driving employment for nurse practitioners with the BLS predicting the occupation to grow 31 percent between 2016 and 2026. As the aging boomer population and the medical services they require continue to put a strain on healthcare providers, nurse practitioners can help to better distribute patient workloads between caregivers to ensure optimal levels of coverage. The most in-demand candidates for this position will vary by employer need, given the many certifications that nurse practitioners can acquire to diversify their skill sets and address specific needs with more focused specialization.

pharmacy technicians

Pharmacy technicians are projected to be in high demand, with a 12 percent growth rate expected between 2016 and 2026. The aging population will drive demand for more prescription drugs, creating ample employment opportunity for pharmacy technicians. Not to be overlooked, too, is the impact that the growing pharmaceutical industry is having on employment opportunities for pharmacy technicians. New advancements in pharmaceutical research will result in more new drugs being released to market to help fight diseases. Top talent for this role will have both classroom and laboratory work experience and either a certification or a degree, depending on the program.

registered nurses

Job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be plentiful in 2019. The shortage of nurses and a growing population of elderly have increased demand, with the overall need for registered nurses projected to increase 28 percent by 2030. As the older population creates more patients than hospital staffs can handle, nurses will be needed in even greater numbers to provide care across the country, particularly in areas that have been hit hardest by the shortage, like California, Texas and New Jersey.

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The U.S. will need approximately 3.6 million more nurses over the next decade.

non-clinical roles

certified coder/medical coding technicians

As the insurance landscape becomes more complex, employers will need experienced medical coding technicians to ensure providers receive adequate reimbursement. As a result, job opportunities for health information technicians like medical coders are expected to grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. The most in-demand candidates will have a coding certification from either the American Academy of Professional Coders or the American Health Information Management Association. The state with the most new opportunities will be California, where approximately 21,900 technicians are currently employed. The top industry for the occupation is still projected to be general medical and surgical hospitals, which employ more than 68,000 medical billing and coding personnel alone.

medical secretaries

During this period of healthcare industry growth, job opportunities for medical secretaries are projected to grow 22 percent between 2016 and 2026. With increased patient volume, physicians will need skilled medical secretaries to assist patients, families and visitors on the bustling frontlines. Top talent for this role will need to be able to use and adapt to the many new digital tools and databases at their disposal and have superior communication skills and patient-facing demeanor. Employers should also look to hire candidates who can update and manage complex filing systems and databases and be able to handle insurance billing at scale to prepare for this new growth.

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More than $200 billion was generated in healthcare revenues last year in the U.S.

keys to attracting healthcare talent in 2019

With this increased demand comes fierce competition for talent, and employers are already struggling to attract and retain the kind of candidates they need. To combat this talent shortage, employers are devoting more resources to their employee engagement and retention programs. Others are looking to make themselves more attractive to highly sought-after candidates by offering superior benefits and perks packages that are more closely aligned with the expectations of today's workers.

Randstad's Benefits and Perks in the Workplace study found that employee preferences were split across generational lines. Thirty-five percent of younger millennial respondents said they wished their employers offered tuition assistance, while workers over 50 listed health insurance as their main concern.

Other perks, like early Friday releases, flexible work arrangements and onsite amenities like gyms and dry cleaning, were popular across the board which, when incorporated, could give businesses a leg up over the competition. 

Employers should take these perks into account, along with candidate preferences by age, and tailor their benefits packages accordingly to attract today's top talent.  

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