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January 12, 2022

The 'best health care jobs' in 2022, according to U.S. News

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    U.S. News & World Report has released its annual list of the "Best Health Care Jobs" in 2022, with nurse practitioners topping the list.

    Cheat sheets: Best places to work


    For the list, which includes 29 jobs, U.S. News evaluated each job's:

    • Unemployment rate
    • Future job prospects
    • Median salary
    • Stress level
    • 10-year growth percentage
    • 10-year growth volume
    • Work-life balance

    The best jobs in health care

    According to U.S. News, the 10 best jobs in health care in 2022 are:

    1. Nurse practitioner
    2. Physician assistant/associate
    3. Speech-language pathologist
    4. Physician
    5. Registered nurse
    6. Respiratory therapist
    7. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
    8. Nurse anesthetist
    9. Veterinarian
    10. Physical therapist

    In addition, U.S. News ranked the best health care support jobs. The top 10 jobs included:

    1. Diagnostic medical sonographer
    2. Occupational therapy assistant
    3. Home health aide (tie)
    4. Personal care aide (tie)
    5. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse
    6. Orthotist and prosthetist
    7. Massage therapist
    8. Clinical laboratory technician
    9. Physical therapist assistant
    10. Medical assistant 

    Health care jobs also accounted for four of the top 10 jobs included on U.S. Newslist of the 100 Best Jobs in America in 2022, which covers jobs across all sectors. The health care jobs that made the top 10 of the broader list include:

    • Nurse practitioner, at number 2
    • Physician assistant/associate, at number 3
    • Medical and health services manager, at number 4
    • Speech-language pathologist, at number 10

    In addition, health care jobs accounted for 14 entries on U.S. News' list of the 25 best-paying jobs—and claimed the list's top 11 spots. Those 14 jobs are:

    1. Anesthesiologist
    2. Surgeon
    3. OB-GYN
    4. Orthodontist
    5. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
    6. Physician
    7. Psychiatrist
    8. Prosthodontist
    9. Nurse anesthetist
    10. Pediatrician
    11. Dentist
    12. Podiatrist
    13. Pharmacist
    14. Optometrist

    "It is no surprise that health care occupations continue to dominate the Best Jobs general rankings; the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly helped underscore the essential role they play in all of our lives," said Antonio Barbera, consumer advice senior editor at U.S. News. "The low unemployment rates and strong future prospects for many of these roles certainly reflect that."

    For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs such as physician assistants/associates will continue to be in high demand due to several factors, including the growing and aging population, a higher number of patients living with chronic diseases, income increases, and advances in medical technology, which will continue to expand the number and types of available treatments. (U.S. News & World Report, Best Health Care Jobs list, accessed 1/11; U.S. News & World Report 100 Best Jobs list, accessed 1/11; U.S. News & World Report Best-Paying Jobs list, accessed 1/11; U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs methodology, accessed 1/11; U.S. News & World Report press release, 1/11)


    Advisory Board's take

    Why it feels odd to label health care jobs as the 'best' amid a crisis

    By Kate Vonderhaar-Johnson and Monica Westhead

    Contrary to being the 'best' jobs in America in 2021, we are seeing a record number of workers quitting and leaving the industry entirely. Health care workers have been struggling to bear the weight of the Covid-19 crisis for two years, and amid a staffing shortage crisis, it can be unbearable. So we think we should be quite clear about working in health care right now: it is overwhelmingly challenging. Amid the difficulties, people can still experience fulfillment and joy from their work—we don't doubt that. But it feels nearly tragicomic to simply declare seven of the top 10 jobs in America as health care jobs without offering some perspective to the reality of today.

    Health care was among the top three industries hit by the latest wave of resignations. According to economists, the wave of resignations seen throughout the "Great Resignation" has been driven by a range of factors, including low-wage jobs without opportunities for career growth, rising costs of child care, increasing responsibility and grueling work conditions amid Covid-19 surges, and fatigue from the pandemic. It's worth noting that health care does offer job security and mission-driven work, so it's not all that bad. The people leaving the industry made the decision on their own terms given the conditions.

    When assessing the U.S. News & World Report, there are a few pieces to the methodology that are worth investigating further. For example, stress level and work-life balance were parts of the metrics that went into this creating the list, but it is not entirely clear how much weight they were given. If given lower priority in the calculation, we think that they should carry much more weight in 2022. Because if your mental wellbeing suffers, then components like 10-year growth fall in importance. There also seems to be a disconnect between what is perceived as a 'good' job from the outside versus the reality of what it is like day-in and day-out. Given the circumstances of health care today, it may be up to providers and their leaders to make their jobs as 'best' as they can.

    The Covid-19 crisis will end someday, but the challenge of working in health care will remain. If we expect these jobs to continue faring well in top 10 lists, leaders need to seriously support their teams for years to come.

    Here are our curated resources to help health care workers now and in the future:

    Cheat sheets: Best places to work

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    Is your organization recognized as a "Best Place to Work?" If not, you could be missing an important tool to recruit new employees—and a big opportunity to spotlight your employee engagement work with current staff. Download our cheat sheets to learn exactly how influential publications decide who makes the cut (and who doesn't):

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