Health Care

Looking for a job? Look at health care

Health care positions make up about half of the top 100 jobs for 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Health care positions make up about half of the top 100 jobs for 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report. File photo

Those looking for hot jobs in the labor market this year would be wise to keep two words in mind: health care.

That’s according to a new list by U.S. News & World Report ranking the top 100 jobs for 2017.

Released on Jan. 11, the annual list includes eight health care-related jobs in the top 10 and 22 in the top 30. About half of the top 100 jobs for this year have to do with health care, including oral health- and mental health-related positions.

In order, the top five jobs for 2017, according to the list, are dentist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, statistician and orthodontist.

A local leader

After reviewing the 2017 lineup, Sandra Bibb, dean of the Wichita State University College of Health Professions, said she’s not surprised at the industry’s dominance in the rankings.

“With the aging of our population, the health care industry will continue to be a leader in a number of ways,” Bibb said. “People are living longer, so everything points to the health care industry being very robust moving forward.”

The publication identified “good jobs” as being those that pay well and are challenging though not overly stressful.

Bibb said the College of Health Professions – which has about 2,060 students – features 10 programs of study that correspond with jobs on the U.S. News & World Report top 100.

“Here in Wichita, health care is our second-largest industry,” Bibb said. “We have a lot of nursing students – 44 percent of students in the College of Health Professions are in nursing – but we have a lot of other programs that line up with that list. For instance, we’re home to the only physician assistant program in Kansas.”

Wichita State is also home to a one-year residency program in advanced general dentistry. Bibb said the program is important because Kansas does not currently have a school of dentistry, though the Kansas Board of Regents did discuss the possibility of the state’s first such school at an August budget workshop.

“The hope is that people come to Wichita for our dental residency program and stay in Kansas,” Bibb said.

Popular programs

Wichita State isn’t the only institution of higher learning in town churning out health care professionals and support workers.

At Wichita Area Technical College, about 30 percent (710) of adult students enrolled are in some type of health care program, according to Sheree Utash, the school’s president.

“In addition to our nursing, dental (assistant), medical assisting and surgery technology programs, new programs are being created,” Utash said. “These new technical certificates and degrees in health care-related fields will help meet the future workforce needs of our community.”

For the fall 2016 semester, Newman University had 640 students with health-related majors and minors (including biology, chemistry and biochemistry), according to the university. Friends University has about 330 students enrolled in health care-related programs, said university spokeswoman Gisele McMinimy.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said the health care sector is important to the city’s overall economic well-being.

“We have the potential to significantly grow our position as a leader in the field of health care,” Longwell said in an e-mail. “We’re blessed with many higher education institutions and medical facilities and Wichita is faced with an abundance of opportunities and avenues for growth.”

As technology continues to evolve and improve in the health care sector, it would seem that robotic devices might eventually cut into the jobs that humans can do, a phenomenon that has been well-documented in other industries.

Bibb, however, said there will be plenty of jobs for humans in health care in the future, which bodes well for those just entering the field.

“We’re going to continue to have robots doing things that don’t require critical thinking skills,” Bibb said. “The innovation that is taking place in our industry is more of the complementary kind – things that help us do our jobs, not take away our jobs.”

Top 10 jobs for 2017

1. Dentist

2. Nurse practitioner

3. Physician assistant

4. Statistician

5. Orthodontist

6. Nurse anesthetist

7. Pediatrician

8. Computer systems analyst

9. (tie) Obstetrician and gynecologist; oral and maxillofacial surgeon

Source: U.S. News & World Report