We’ve heard it before: jobs in the healthcare industry are booming and are going to be booming for the next decade or two. In fact, the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) let us know in 2008 that there will be a shortage of 250,000 public health jobs by 2020. We started grad school with this prediction ringing in our ears, comfortable with the fact that we’d have job security from graduation until the end of the baby boomer era.
So where are the jobs?
I know that many of my colleagues are not finding public health work, and if they are, they are bachelor-level positions without master-level compensations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published an official employment projection summary at the end of 2015 for jobs ranging from 2014 to 2024. This summary surmises that the healthcare industry will be among the fastest growing in the United States, based on the increase of older age groups and individuals entering retirement. It further details that among these jobs will be healthcare support occupations, healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. Translation: medical doctors, optometrists, dentists, dental assistants, podiatrists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, home health aides. The reality is that MPH jobs are not on this list.
On one hand, we have the ASPPH telling us that there are plenty of public health jobs and plenty more to come. On the other hand, predictions from the BLS describe a future with healthcare jobs for everyone but public health. Who is correct?
The reality is, it’s 2016 (four years away from 2020) which means that we should be in the midst of this job swell, but the predicted demand simply isn’t there. Many organizations continue to cite the 2008 ASPPH prediction making it seem still relevant, but even ASPPH isn’t touting their idea anymore. In one recent article, they gave complete credit to HRSA for the forecast (and HRSA gave the credit right back).
I have my doubts that a mammoth famine of public health workers is in our future. In fact, I think it will take employers knocking on my door asking for my MPH-laden mind to convince me that the market is that swollen with public health jobs.
What do you think?
What has been your experience finding public health work? Do you think projections for the appearance of 250,000 more public health jobs in the next four years is accurate? Weigh in on the forum.