It’s no surprise that the world is experiencing a growing need for healthcare workers, as medical research and development has excelled over the last few decades our life expectancy and population number across the world has seriously increased. A larger, aging population is really taking its toll on healthcare systems, they are buckling under the weight of the demand and struggling to cope. Let’s take a look at how this crisis has started to take effect and the solutions that could answer what appears to be an ever-growing problem.

Growing Population

Over the past 44 years, the world population has almost doubled from 4 billion people in 1975 to 7.7 billion people in 2019 which is a clear indication why healthcare systems have been struggling to cope. Infrastructure and medical professionals have not developed or increased at the same rate as demand. A recent article published by the United Nations highlights that, although the world population is now growing at a slower rate, numbers are expected to increase by 2 billion reaching 9.7 billion by 2050.

It is clear that there is a lot of work to do in order to provide the healthcare sector with the staff members, facilities and equipment needed to cover this growing population in an effective way. Delays on diagnosis and treatment will be detrimental to patients, having a costly price on there wellbeing and lives. Immigration is also another factor that needs to be considered and catered for, when large communities are displaced due to conflict or environmental disasters they will need to be able to seek medical care in the countries they seek refuge.

Aging Population

The United Nations report also confirms that the world population is aging due to an increased life expectancy but also a decrease in fertility levels. Many experts believe that this growing number will peak when there are between 9 and 11 billion people living on planet earth before numbers will start to decline, so it’s clear to see that there is a lot of work to be done if countries around the world are going to keep up with the necessary healthcare requirements.

Whilst governments and local councils will be responsible for discovering ways to fund and improve infrastructures that can cope with the growing number of individuals needing care, there will also be an increased demand for workers within the healthcare industry which provides a perfect opportunity if you’re looking for a lengthy and prosperous career.

In September 2019, CNBC published an insightful article regarding the aging population in America and doctor shortage crisis that is emerging as the growing number of residents outpaces health worker supply. Not only is the population living longer and requiring more care but doctors themselves are aging out of their profession. If predictions are correct there will be a huge shortage of physicians by 2032, rating anywhere from 46,900 to 121,900 members of staff and the gap will most certainly need to be filled. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the areas of care you could look into which could help ease the growing pressure within the healthcare industry.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Focusing on family care, family nurse practitioners (or FNP’s for short) are advanced practiced registered nurses who work autonomously or in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to deliver care. This role provides an abundance of variety as caring for the whole family’s health care issues can be rather broad, whether it’s health promotion, disease prevention, direct care or counseling, there is a huge range of health care services to get involved in.

Work locations vary from typical healthcare settings such as a doctor’s surgery, a hospital wing or clinic, but can also take you to environments such as private homes and schools. Family nurse practitioners will be responsible for administering care that ranges from mild ailments to serious conditions, and caring for any family member from a child to an older grandparent. Dealing with first time mothers whilst they settle into postpartum life, supporting family members that are caring for elderly relations and managing overall patient care regarding lifestyle and development issues; this line of work can be seriously rewarding and the variety of skills learned can be an excellent foundation to use if you choose to specialize in another field further down the line.

Training to be a family nurse practitioner will require a degree in nursing to be ascertained before a post-graduate course is undertaken to gain the required qualification. This can be achieved in a traditional college setting or remotely through an online course. Texas Woman’s University offers online post master’s certificate nurse practitioner programs to transition into a role as a primary FNP. The course expands problem-solving skills, strengthens your approach to a compassionate, multifaceted nursing practice that treats the whole patient and deepens your knowledge of advanced topics such as pharmacology and pathophysiology.

Choosing to gain this advanced education and further your career online gives you the opportunity to add study time to your day-to-day life in a flexible way, whilst still being able to work and care for your own family at the same time.

Holistic Therapist

This area of medical care has become increasingly popular in recent years as patients are becoming more aware of the possible treatment plans available outside of traditional western medical care. Holistic therapy can be a brilliant options for patients to consider if their ailments are minor and not severely life-threatening, but it also works as a brilliant complementary therapy to run alongside traditional western medicine for serious conditions such as cancer.

If you’re not looking to join a traditional healthcare establishment longterm in your career, holistic therapy provides the perfect opportunity to branch out independently when the necessary training and qualifications have been completed. Many holistic therapists set up private practices of their own or work on a remote basis, visiting patients in their own home which provides a brilliantly varied lifestyle and there are so many specialties to consider.

Much of holistic therapy embodies eastern medical practices where the whole individual is taken into account when treatment is sought out, focusing on the mind, body, spirit and emotions of a person in order to restore a healthy level of well being. Considering all aspects of your physical and mental health instead of separate symptoms that are causing distress is believed to be another effective way of treating patients.

Chiropractic care is probably the most well-known holistic therapy in the western world, a healthcare plan that uses a range of techniques to reduce pain, improve function and increase mobility in the body. Healthcare workers will not only manage physical ailments but also look to advise patients on exercise and lifestyle changes that can accelerate recovery and care. Other areas of holistic therapy include nutritional therapy where diet is used to increase a patient’s health and general wellbeing, aromatherapy which uses the scent of essential oils to improve psychological and physical wellbeing, and reflexology that focuses on pressure points within the feet, hands and ears that can improve circulation and restore a natural balance in the body.

Heading into this area of healthcare requires a similar route of education as one of a family nurse practitioner where individuals will need to take the general nursing education they have received to a level of further education that specializes in their chosen field. An increase in holistic therapy practitioners would certainly help alleviate the pressures currently felt by healthcare establishments, if minor ailments can be treated before they become more serious it creates valuable space for patients that really need vital care. 

Social Care

Social care is an area that will come under immense pressure as the population continues to age, with the elderly needing round-the-clock care to help them with some of the most basic day-to-day tasks. With increasing numbers looking to live within a retirement community that offers the necessary care, the demand for this area of expertise is booming. Social care nurses are required to assist the elderly with tasks such as eating, dressing, washing and going to the toilet, not forgetting the support that is needed to keep their mental health and social life in a healthy state.

Loneliness and social isolation is becoming an increasing epidemic to tackle as the world population continues to age, this not only affects the elderly mentally causing memory loss and declining mental health, but it can also impact their physical wellbeing and life expectancy. Seniors who suffer from chronic loneliness have reported higher levels of functional decline. Isolated individuals may have an increased risk of high blood pressure, depression, dementia, malnutrition and other harmful health issues which in turn creates even more pressure on failing healthcare infrastructures.

The normal steps taken to become qualified as a social worker usually include an initial undergraduate degree in sociology or human services, followed by a master’s degree in social work. During this period you will have the opportunity to perform internships and placements within nursing homes, assisted living centers, senior centers and aging organizations within your community.

Mental Health Practitioner

It may be due to the digital age creating more isolation within the growing population or perhaps the increased pressure in society as individuals strive to have both a working and family life, or even just that fact that society is becoming more aware and open about mental health, there is certainly an increase in demand for healthcare in this area of expertise. Issues that practitioners will be responsible for treating include anxiety, depression, eating disorders and addiction and is probably the area that needs to be addressed the quickest. An individual experiencing a decline in their mental health will be easier to treat the quicker they are seen, without the correct amount of healthcare professionals and a delay in their therapy, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Not only is the timeframe surrounding this area of the utmost importance, but patients can also feel extremely vulnerable and scared throughout the treatment process so they will need a large amount of care. A demanding but hugely fulfilling role, mental health practitioners will work closely with psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals. Private mental health services have seen a huge increase in demand but it seems that there is currently not enough staff to meet patients’ needs. This is an open opportunity for individuals seeking a new line of work to take advantage of an area that will require plenty of professionals to be available for the foreseeable future.

The digital age could act as an incredibly useful tool to enable an increase in professional healthcare workers across the globe as learning and training resources become readily available without having to commit to an on-campus course. The cost of an online course is usually much lower in price making it more accessible to those who may have always wanted to educate themselves for a job within healthcare but have not had the necessary funding available to secure their place. There are no commuting costs and expensive materials such as textbooks are often available online at no cost. It’s the perfect opportunity to improve your technical skills and learn to navigate different learning management systems and programs. The participation skills that students learn on online courses translate to a huge number of healthcare professions.

Although the thought of a growing population is daunting when it comes to the healthcare industry, especially when current infrastructures seem to be failing, it’s easy to look at the negatives involved. As quickly as the world is evolving however, society is learning to adapt and there’s no doubt that the growing need for healthcare professionals will provide necessary job openings for the growing population. With the opportunity to gain expansive knowledge across the board, before specializing in an area that fills you with passion and fulfilment, this sector is certainly a wonderful area to consider for your career if you want to make a difference to those in need.