Health, Medical & Nursing Careers in Florida
If there is any one state that is ideal to pursuing a career in healthcare, it is Florida. Not only does Florida have a large population of retirees, but it also has one of the largest nursing shortages in the country. Job opportunities for students pursuing a degree in healthcare are expected to be abundant for new graduates over the next decade.
Census reports estimate that approximately 16 percent of Florida residents are classified as part of the elderly population. Naturally, this demographic has a higher demand for healthcare services than the younger demographics. With such a high percentage of Florida’s population retired from the workforce, the need for long-term in-home healthcare is higher than it is in other states. This equates to a higher demand for in-home healthcare professionals as well as for other healthcare professionals in general. These careers in demand include medical assistants, dental assistants, phlebotomists, physician assistants, imaging specialists, and lab technicians.
If you are looking to get into the field of health care but are not certain which career path to choose, a home health aide may be a good stepping stone. You do not need a degree or extensive training to become a home health aide: just a passion for helping people. A home health aide provides personal care to individuals who need assistance doing a variety of things. Patients can be elderly, ill, or disabled. Tasks may include helping with running errands or bathing and eating. The starting salary for home health aides is low, however, averaging between $8 and $11 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is good experience though, and its flexible hours allow many people to finish their formal education in other medical fields while working as home health aides.
Building a Health and Medical Nursing Career in Florida
Due to an increased dependence on in-home care as well as outpatient services, Florida’s outlook on health care careers in unique. Many people associate health care careers with working in hospitals, but this is not often the case in Florida. Places of employment include rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, home health settings, and skilled nursing facilities.
An individual that is interested in pursuing an education in any of the above mentioned career fields would be best suited attending a school within the state of Florida. The reason for attending a school in Florida is that all states have different certification requirements and offer different types of degrees throughout the medical field. A school in Florida will be able to offer exactly what students need to continue to find employment within the state, because they will be familiar with the certification requirements. This is not to say, however, that an individual cannot pursue a healthcare degree in Florida if they have started their education in a different state. Credits can transfer and the demand for employees is high regardless of whether or not an individual attended a school in Florida.
The combination of the Health Care Reform Bill and a nursing shortage that is failing to meet the population’s demands, equates to anincredibly optimistic outlook for job opportunities in the field of healthcare over the next decade. The Health Care Reform Bill comes with an increased demand for a variety of health care services across all age groups: not just for the elderly. The Florida Center for Nursing estimates that the vacancy rates for Registered Nurses (RN’s) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) are at a whopping 9 percent.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s outlook for 2012, the average RN is expected to earn an average of $29.81 per hour in Florida, statewide. For healthcare technicians, the statewide average is $17.94 per hour. Physician assistants are expected to earn an average of $44.11 per hour. Of course, these wages depend upon the amount of experience and education the employee holds.
The following are a sampling of careers in the fields of health, medical, and nursing; as well as their respective hourly wages for Florida residents from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists – $26.68
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians – $18.21
- Dental Laboratory Technicians – $17.76
- Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians – $15.52
- Occupational Therapy Assistants – $28.12
With the large number of retirees consistently moving to Florida, the demand for health care and nursing professionals is bound to increase. For job security, the health care field is certainly worth the career investment for those who enjoy helping and caring for people.