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Jan 13, 2014

Whatever you may think of the Affordable Care Act, it’s already creating new health care jobs, and increasing demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

“Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are attractive options because they can do 75 to 85 percent of the work a physician does at 55 to 65 percent of the cost,” says Susan Mesa, president of the Atlanta locum tenens staffing firm Advanced   

These types of professionals may be the most obvious beneficiaries of the health care law, parts of which began to go into effect January 1. They are not, however, the only workers who will be needed as the number of the nation’s medically insured grows.

More than 4.5 million new health care jobs forecast

Joanne Spetz, who is professor in residence at the University of California, San Francisco, says, “In general, when people have health insurance, they demand more health care.” That means, she adds, “a lot of opportunities at the entry-level and mid level.”

Robert Wise, chairman of the New Jersey Health Care Workforce Council, told, “Many more professionals and caregiver positions are necessary to meet what will be a significant new demand. We’re talking about thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs over the next 10 to 15 years.”

A study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies says 4.6 million new health care jobs will be created in the next 10 years. Most of them will be prompted by the aging of the U.S. population. However, the report says the Affordable Care Act will account for a sizable share of the growth in employment in medical offices and pharmacies.

In specific occupations, the ACA will boost the number of new RNs by 34 percent over the next decade, accounting for 238,000 of the 712,000 projected increase.

A boom for medical assistants and secretaries

But there will be a veritable boom in demand for medical assistants and secretaries, who don’t need advanced degrees. Between these two occupations, the number of workers will grow by 373,000, with well over half the jobs created due to the implementation of the ACA.

Last month, CareerCast said 12 health care jobs made its list of the hottest jobs in 2013. Medical records technician, dental hygienist, and respiratory therapist shared company on the list with chiropractor and physician assistant.

Though the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey predicts full-time hiring may take a hit from the implementation of the health care law, the evidence is that the healthcare industry will be its beneficiary.