A BSN student at the WSU College of Nursing practicing clinical skills.
A BSN student at the WSU College of Nursing practices clinical skills. 

Health care will dominate the job market in the United States in coming years, says an employment outlook report from the federal government.

Nurse practitioners and registered nurses will see some of the biggest increases.

The report estimates there will be 39,700 more nurse practitioner jobs created between 2016 and 2026, a 37.4 percent increase. That puts nurse practitioner among the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade. Of those 10 jobs, however, only two have higher median pay than the $100,910 nurse practitioners make per year (meaning half of nurse practitioners nationally earn more than that, half earn less).

The report also estimates there will be 437,000 new jobs created for registered nurses – a 15 percent increase – putting the profession at No. 3 on the “most new jobs” list. It’s worth noting, however, that the occupations ranking higher than registered nurse on that list pay less than a third of the median pay for a registered nurse.  Personal care aide ranks No. 1, for example, but has a median pay of $21,920 per year, while the median pay for registered nurses (nationally) is $68,450 per year.

“Factors such as the aging baby-boom population, longer life expectancies, and growing rates of chronic conditions will drive continued demand for healthcare services,” the report notes.

In fact, the group of jobs lumped together as “health care and social assistance” will add nearly 4 million jobs in the United States by 2026, making it the largest major employment sector in the nation – larger than education, construction, government, or retail trade.

Job prospects for physicians are also rosy, especially for those “who are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas,” where jobs are typically harder to fill, the report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes. The report projects a 15 percent increase in jobs for “physicians and surgeons” between 2016 and 2026.

“Health care’s statistical dominance of the emerging labor force is stunning,” says The Atlantic magazine in an article titled “Why nerds and nurses are taking over the U.S. economy.” And “since it’s difficult to automate (and impossible to offshore) the tactile work of caring for a fragile elderly person, these jobs would seem resistant even to the most aggressive implications of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine automation of the labor force,” the article says.

— Story by Addy Hatch

For information on the Washington State University College of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, visit https://nursing.wsu.edu/academics/bsn/.

For information on the college’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees for nurse practitioners, visit https://nursing.wsu.edu/graduate-programs/.

For information on all the health science degrees offered at WSU Spokane, visit https://spokane.wsu.edu/