Who Are Our Health Care Workers?

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

We’ve been talking about health care workers a lot during this public health emergency/pandemic.  Just who are these workers?  The U.S. Census Bureau has some answers.

Many of the nation’s health care workers are now on the front line of the battle with COVID-19. Who are these people putting their lives at risk daily to care for the millions who have contracted the coronavirus?

There were 22 million workers in the health care industry, one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the United States that accounts for 14% of all U.S. workers, according to the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS).

The health care and social assistance industry sector includes establishments that provide medical care in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, nursing and residential care, and social assistance such as family and childcare services.

  • In 2019, around seven million people worked at general medical, surgical or specialty hospitals; some two million at outpatient care centers and about 1.8 million worked at nursing care facilities.
  • There were 9.8 million workers employed as health care technicians and practitioners, including physicians, surgeons, and registered nurses. About two-thirds were non-Hispanic White.
  • Another 5.3 million worked as nursing assistants, home health and personal care aides and in other health care support occupations. One-quarter of health care support workers were Black.
  • Women accounted for three-quarters of full-time, year-round health care workers.
  • Women working as registered nurses, the most common health care occupation for women, had median annual earnings of $68,509.
  • In contrast, women working as nursing assistants, the most common health care support occupation, earned $28,686.
  • Among full-time, year-round health care workers, more than half of paramedics, surgeons, and other physicians were men. Median earnings for men in selected health care occupations ranged from under $30,000 for home health aides to over $250,000 for emergency medicine physicians.

I’ve excerpted some of the interesting charts in this survey report.  I encourage you to review the entire report (it’s a quick read) for more information.  You’ll find the hyperlink in the second paragraph of this blog.