By Jennifer Larson, contributor Jan 12, 2021
If you ask 10 people to give a definition for the “best job” in
healthcare, you’ll probably get 10 different responses.
Some will focus on job satisfaction, while others will focus on earning
potential. Some will talk about work–life balance. Still others may choose to
highlight the demand for people with those particular skills and the job
opportunities available to them.
Often, those best jobs in healthcare turn out to be the ones that hit
the sweet spot of providing meaningful work with an equally meaningful
In recent years, you could pretty much expect a certain level of demand
for many healthcare jobs, including physicians, nurses and advanced
practitioners. In fact, these jobs have consistently ranked high on the annual
list compiled by U.S. News and World
Report of the Best Jobs in America. Then in 2020, everything got upended
with the coronavirus pandemic. And the pandemic continues.
So, what will 2021 bring? What will those “best jobs in healthcare” be
FIND locum tenens jobs
in your specialty and choice of location.
Adjusting expectations in the wake of the pandemic
How has the pandemic affected the demand for certain types of healthcare
professionals as we move forward into 2021?
What kind of staff will hospitals and healthcare
organizations need as the pandemic continues?
Will retirements accelerate and make existing
shortages more severe?
Will burnout drive more healthcare professionals
out of the workforce?
What will work schedules and job demands look
like in the months ahead?
“I think we’re still trying to figure that out,” said Jean Moore, DrPH,
FAAN, director of the Health Workforce Technical Assistance Center at the University
at Albany, SUNY in New York.
“I would say, generally, the pandemic just exacerbated already existing
supply/demand issues,” says Bianca Frogner, PhD, director of the University of
Washington’s Center for Health Workforce Studies.
Some issues healthcare employers must address:
“Depending on the setting, hiring staff with experience delivering
services or facilitating service delivery using some kind of telehealth
technology will be important,” predicted Susan Skillman, MS, senior deputy director
of the University of Washington’s Center for Health Workforce Studies. “Updated
infection control skills will, of course, be essential.”
Moore said she also expects to see continued demand for professionals
who can help an aging population manage their chronic health conditions. People
may also need care for chronic conditions that develop as result of COVID-19,
too. And that means turning to primary care providers that include physicians,
nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
A look at some top healthcare jobs with projected demand
Although some uncertainties remain with regard to the
pandemic’s effect, here’s a look at some of the Best
Jobs in Healthcare for 2021, as defined by U.S. News, and how these jobs are projected to experience an
increase in demand—both for permanent positions and locum tenens jobs.
pathologists – ranked No. 4
ranked No. 6
ranked No. 7
Oral and maxillofacial
surgeons – ranked No. 9
– ranked No. 10
– ranked No. 11
ranked No. 12
ranked No. 13
Registered nurses –
ranked No. 14
– ranked No. 15
It typically takes just over two years to complete a physician
assistant training program, and that may well be two years well spent. According to the
American Academy of Physician Assistants, most students have a bachelor’s
degree and about three years of healthcare experience before entering a PA
Physician assistants, or PAs, grabbed the No. 1 spot on the
list of 2021 Best Healthcare Jobs as well as the overall list of Best Jobs in
America. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is predicting a 31 percent increase in employment
for PAs between 2019 and 2029.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) can look forward to a bright future, as well.
U.S. News awarded the No. 2 spot on the Best Healthcare Jobs list to nurse
practitioners. These master’s- or doctorate-prepared advanced practice
registered nurses can expect to enjoy significant employment growth over the
next eight years, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS). In fact, the BLS forecasts employment growth for NPs around 28 percent
between 2018 and 2028.
Ranked No. 3 on the Best Healthcare Jobs in 2021 list, physicians of course play
a pivotal role in the healthcare system, and will continue to be an area of
The nation’s ongoing physician shortage is expected to continue. A 2020
report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts
that the United States could experience a shortage of as many as 139,000
physicians by 2033. The study forecasted a shortage that could range between 54,100
and 139,000 doctors and will include both primary care and specialty
Dentists grabbed the No. 5 spot on the list of Best Healthcare Jobs in 2021, thanks in
part to a healthy job market, high compensation and an extremely low
unemployment rate. Dentists made a
median salary of $155,600 in 2019, while the best-paid 25 percent made an
average of $208,000 that year.
The BLS projects
2.8 percent employment growth for dentists between 2019 and 2029. In that
period, an estimated 3,700 jobs should open up.
specializing in anesthesiology were ranked No.
8 on this year’s list of top healthcare jobs from U.S. News. With a median salary of $208,000 and a consistent need
for their services, both before and during the andemic, anesthesiologists are
still expected to see just a 0.5 percent employment growth rate between 2019
This slower job growth
is likely due to the growth in jobs for certified registered nurse anesthetists
(CRNAs) who provide anesthesia services at lower salary rates, although they
require more supervision. CRNAs are being used more frequently to expand the
reach of anesthesia care teams.
healthcare professionals rounding out the
list of the top 15 healthcare jobs in 2021 include:
nurses and respiratory therapists may have
experienced more direct changes in their daily work this past year, it seems
that every healthcare practitioner was affected in some way by the pandemic.
Only time will tell what the long-term effects will be on these professions.
What’s the forecast for locum tenens?
Could the best job in healthcare in 2021 be a temporary one, like a locum
Many locum physicians and advanced practitioners enjoy the flexibility
of choosing where and when they want to work, and being able to help out in
areas where they were especially needed. Locums are also paid very well for
what they do, and can take advantage of free housing, paid travel and other
During 2020, a number of organizations
scrambled to hire locum tenens, travel nurses and other temporary staff to fill
their rosters as the pandemic surged. Researchers are interested in tracking
whether healthcare organizations will continue to need to hire temporary staff
in 2021 at similar rates.
“Some of this will also depend on
how well we do with ensuring our healthcare workers remain healthy and well and
not burned out, as the pandemic goes on,” said Frogner.
Best Jobs in Healthcare for 2020
STAFF CARE is seeking qualified physicians, physician assistants,
advanced practice nurses, dentists and other clinicians for locum tenens
assignments around the country.
Contact a Recruiter To Learn More