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The Gap Between Skilled Healthcare Workers and Support Jobs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 2, 2012

A stubborn line of demarcation exists between the haves and have-nots in the U.S. healthcare workforce. For skilled technicians and healthcare practitioners, there are more than two job openings for every qualified candidate. The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine data series for June reports 615,800 online job ads seeking skilled healthcare workers, led primarily by the demand for registered nurses and physical therapists. The number of online job ads for this skill set grew by more than 28,000 in June, and the average hourly wage for those jobs was $34.97.

That factoid is turned on its head when examining the demand for healthcare support jobs such as nurses' aides, technology and clerical support staff, and phlebotomists. According to the Conference Board, there are two candidates for every healthcare support job, which paid an average hourly wage of $13.16.

"The pathways are pretty good on the professional and technical side. In theory you can go from a high school diploma to a nursing certificate to an LPN to a BA or a BSN to a master's degree," says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

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