Workforce Briefs: October 2015

Monthly BLS Report: Healthcare Employment Continues to Grow

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that September was another good month for healthcare. Healthcare employment rose 34,400 last month, about 5,000 less than August but a clear sign of the robustness of the industry. The BLS notes that the increase is still “in line with the average increase of 38,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months.”

Breaking 34,400 job increase down further, ambulatory care centers added nearly 13,000 jobs, continuing their upward trajectory. Hospitals added 15,500 jobs in September, and nursing and residential care facilities added about 6,000.

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Results of Physician Census: More Female Doctors and Older Doctors

The U.S. physician workforce is getting older. The average age for a licensed physician in 2014 was 52, up from 51 in 2012, according to the Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States, 2014, recently published in the Journal of Medical Regulation.

And while the field is still predominantly male, the numbers of women are increasing. In 2012, 264,846 female physicians were license to practice in the United States — about 30.2% of the total of 878,194 licensed physicians. By 2014, the percentage of female physicians increased to 32%, which represented 293,565 of 916,264 total physicians. Female physicians tend to be younger than their male counterparts, according to the results; the average age of the female physicians in 2014 was 47, compared to 55 years for male physicians.

The survey also showed that the osteopathic physician workforce is growing at a faster rate than the allopathic workforce, even though the overall numbers of DOs is still much smaller than MDs. In 2012, 92.5% of licensed physicians had a Doctor of Medicine degree and 7.2% had a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. In 2014, 91.8% of physicians were MDs and 8% were DOs.

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Caution: Risks Associated with Shift Work

People who do shift work may get paid slightly more than those who work regular hours, but they may pay for it with their health.

A study recently published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine noted that shift work can result in cognitive decline. The longer a person worked irregular hours, the more significant the decline. However, the decline could be reversed if a person leaves that type of work, although researchers determine that it could take as long as five years.

Nearly half of the nation’s nurses, or 48%, do some shift work, which can include night shifts, weekend shifts or rotational hours. According to research, one major problem is that shift workers may not be getting enough sleep. Shift workers have a 61% chance of developing insomnia, compared to 47% of people who work traditional daytime hours. A third of shift workers report being sleepier during the day, compare with only 18% of their daytime counterparts. Another health complication associated with shift work is a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Are Physicians Happy and Healthy?

Doctors may be stressed. They may teeter on the verge of burnout at times. But the 2015 Great American Physician Survey conducted annually by Physicians Practice has revealed that doctors also tend to rate their overall health and happiness as “above average.”

This year, 1,001 doctors responded to the survey and rated themselves 7.3 on a scale of 1 to 10 for both their health and happiness levels. Additionally, 56% reported that they “like being a physician,” and 49% said they are “fairly happy with my selection of a specialty.”

However, that doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. Nearly 70% also agreed with the statement, “I don’t have as much time for my personal life as I think I should have.” More than half said they can’t sacrifice anything to work less. Less than half agreed that they feel like they have a good work-life balance. And many say they could stand to get more sleep and exercise, too.

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