Huh? Healthcare Jobs Lead Both Cuts and New Jobs

Recent news brought two seemingly contradictory headlines. Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that healthcare and pharmaceutical companies were shedding jobs in the first quarter at a rate that put healthcare near the top of the list for job losses, surpassed only by the financial and retail industries. At the same time, we read reports that hiring for healthcare jobs is continuing at a pace that is stronger than most any other sector of the economy. An analysis of careers from the journal Science suggests that scientists should consider healthcare careers because of the large number of healthcare jobs that will be created over the next decade. How can this be?

The common thread may well be the massive changes under way as we implement the Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare. One of the central themes of healthcare reform has been to restructure payment models and thus force a restructuring of healthcare delivery. Slowly (too slow for many advocates) we are shifting away from a payment system based of paying for procedures and services. That system encouraged overuse of services, sometimes to the detriment of patients, and almost certainly to the detriment of people paying the bills. The result is a bloated and inefficient healthcare delivery system.

The intent is to shift to a payment system that pays for health outcomes. This is a massive shift that will hurt inefficient health systems cobbled together from disparate organizations seeking to survive. The process will doubtless be messy and risky. Look for surprises along the way.

The good news in all this is that some people can complain about Obamacare killing jobs while others rejoice that it’s creating jobs — and they’ll both be right.

Click here to read about healthcare job cuts in the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here to read the March job cuts report, click here to read more about scientists considering healthcare careers, click here to read more about healthcare hiring trends, and click here to read more about how healthcare reform is driving restructuring for the industry.

Faculty Foot image by Olaf E. Caskin from the 1909 yearbook of the University of Washington / Wikimedia

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