March 15, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Robin Kerkstra: Dental healthcare providers are high in demand and short in supply. This trend is expected to continue because of COVID-19. Many dental professionals had to juggle homeschooling and childcare issues and therefore have had to pull out of the job market. The job market was strong before the pandemic and a year later, the job market continues to be exceptionally strong.
Robin Kerkstra: Technical skills required for employment as a dental assistant will vary from state to state based on the state's dental practice act. Possessing the certifications needed to perform the technical skills allowed by each state is an important aspect to obtaining employment in the dental field. It will be important to be well-versed and up to date on the latest recommendations for dental offices from the CDC and the American Dental Association related to Covid-19. Additional skills such excellent organization, a detail-oriented personality, good dexterity, professional demeanor, strong communication skills, and a compassionate attitude will stand out to employers.
Robin Kerkstra: Traditionally salaries remain stable in the dental profession. Wages may increase in the future due to the high demand for dental healthcare providers.
Dan J. Vick MD, DHA, MBA: There are a number of trends occurring right now that are driving growth in the healthcare job market, regardless of the pandemic. First, we are seeing a demographic shift as the baby boomers retire and age. In fact, all baby boomers will be eligible for Medicare by 2030. This population will require more healthcare services as they age, including hospital and specialty care, as well as home healthcare. We will also have a need for more long-term care facilities and administrators to help run them.
Second, advances in technology are continuing at a brisk pace. We are seeing continued improvement in diagnostic imaging equipment and robotic surgery instrumentation, as well as the development of new implantable devices for cardiac patients. These are just a few examples. What this means is there will be a need for healthcare providers and support staff who are technologically savvy.
Another technology-dependent area is telehealth. The pandemic has really propelled advances in, and adoption of, telehealth as many people have received care from their providers during the past year via virtual office visits. Telehealth will not go away once the pandemic subsides; it is here to stay. This paradigm shift will create an ongoing need for technically proficient healthcare workers and healthcare administrators to support them.
Finally, there continues to be a shift from inpatient to outpatient care as our healthcare system looks at ways to bend the cost curve for providing care. We are seeing more urgent care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, and walk-in clinics associated with drugstore chains and big-box retailers.
With all of these trends, it comes as no surprise that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting medical and health services managers jobs to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029.
Dan J. Vick MD, DHA, MBA: Having a graduate degree in health administration is a wise choice. A Master of Health Administration program can provide a person with the formal education and tools to obtain entry-level positions in health administration, as well as to enable those who are already in health administration to advance in their career fields. Further, these degrees are increasingly being sought by healthcare providers who want a better understanding of the complexities of the healthcare system in which they work and to help them obtain positions at the administrative and executive level in healthcare organizations.
Dan J. Vick MD, DHA, MBA: I come from a diverse background of many fields in healthcare. As a physician, I worked as a pathologist in the military and then in private practice. I transitioned to hospital executive roles - chief medical officer and vice president for medical affairs - before entering the academic world as a graduate faculty member a little over a year ago. So, looking at salaries in my various roles would be akin to comparing apples to oranges.
Focusing instead on health administration, which is what I teach now, I can tell you that the annual salary for a health services administrator with a bachelor's degree is $48,753. The annual salary for an administrator with a master's degree is $83,413. Salaries are steadily increasing and will likely continue to do so in the face of demand for these types of positions. This is a good time to work in healthcare!
Brian Bossak Ph.D.: I don't believe that there will be a long-term negative impact from the coronavirus pandemic on graduates with a degree in public health. In the short-term, it is true that public budgets are under pressure from the response to, and eventually, the recovery from the pandemic. On the other hand, there have been massive amounts of stimulus funds contributed to public health agencies because of the pandemic and hiring, at least for temporary positions, appears to be more widespread and quicker to process than in normal times. Going forward, I am hopeful that there will be increased investment in the public health and disease prevention sector, which could bode well for future public health graduates.
Brian Bossak Ph.D.: In my opinion, courses, knowledge, and abilities that are associated with the development and use of quantitative skills are in high demand and are likely to remain so. These are the core tools used in public health analyses: epidemiology, statistics, biostatistics, and environmental health. Certification in advanced skills training or ancillary technologies, such as sophisticated statistical modeling or familiarity with mapping technologies such as GIS are likely to be advantageous.
Brian Bossak Ph.D.: In addition to the aforementioned skills development and technical certification as described, management experience and leadership development is useful in regard to career progression.