The massive changes happening within the medical industry are creating new job opportunities for people with new types of skills.
That was the message shared by local health-care leaders during a panel discussion Tuesday at the University of Akron.
“I think it’s a wonderful time to be exploring a career in the health-care profession,” Charles T. Taylor, dean of the College of Pharmacy at Northeast Ohio Medical University, said to the group of University of Akron students and faculty.
The discussion, Healthcare Careers after the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, was part of the University of Akron College of Business Administration’s H. Peter Burg Personal Leadership Development Speaker Series.
The series was created last year to give students an opportunity to learn from local business and community leaders.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is a starting point in the much-needed transition from a health-care system that focuses on “sick care” rather than keeping people healthy, said Martin Hauser, chief executive of SummaCare insurance company.
People with data analysis skills are in demand within the health-care industry as quality becomes increasingly important, Hauser said. “We’ve been hiring lots of people with data and informatics backgrounds.”
Doctors, nurses, patient advocates and other staff members who didn’t used to talk regularly now have daily “huddles” to talk about what is happening in each unit, said William Considine, president and chief executive of Akron Children’s Hospital. “It’s now becoming commonplace.
“The whole concept of team has been redefined in health care.”
Pharmacists have new opportunities to become a more integral part of the health-care team, Taylor said. Pharmacists can use their skills to help patients with medication management and compliance.
“Medications are obviously a key piece of primary care,” he said.
Patient navigators who help those with breast cancer, prostate cancer or other serious illness coordinate all their appointments and care in a move that is becoming more common, said Beverly Bokovitz, Akron General Medical Center’s chief nursing officer.
Advanced practice nurses also are in demand “to take care of families in a more cost-effective, quality way,” Considine said.
Faced with financial challenges, health-care systems are seeking employees with experience in project management or “lean” efforts used by the manufacturing industry to improve efficiency, Hauser said.
Considine acknowledged in an interview after the panel discussion that financially challenging times have resulted in some “right sizing” within the hospital industry.
This fall, Summa Health System and Akron General both laid off workers as part of ongoing efforts to reduce expenses and contend with changes from federal health-care reform. The Cleveland Clinic also recently told employees that staff cuts could be part of the Northeast Ohio health-care giant’s plans to reduce costs by $330 million in 2014.
However, Considine said, hospitals are continuing to hire in new and expanding areas, such as outpatient services.
“There are job opportunities there,” he said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.