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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Health-care workers are job champs

By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun

Where are the jobs? Everywhere you look if you want a career in health care. Whether it's opticianry, dental hygiene, paramedical services, radiation therapy, nursing or just about anything else, the outlook could hardly be better.

Consider paramedics, for example. The federal government says their earnings are about 10% higher than average, and their unemployment rate is a tiny 1.5%.

And if higher wages and virtually full employment aren't enough to tempt the high school graduate or the career changer, there's more: more jobs, that is.

"Demand for (paramedics) has increased because of a growing and aging population, restructured health care funding and pressure for more on-scene medical attention," say the feds. And, they add, there are more jobs available than qualified people to fill them.

If you're unlucky enough to be treated by a paramedic, the next person you're likely to see is a registered nurse, and everyone knows there can never be enough nurses.

In mid-summer 2004, Pat Hall, chair of Applied Arts and Health Sciences at Seneca College, said 85% of her RN diploma grads for that year (in 2005 RNs must study for a nursing degree) had found employment, as had Seneca's registered practical nurses.

Elaine Burr, a corporate staffing specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, has organized a pair of Nurses 4 Ontario Career Fairs and they were SRO. Burr said the last one in October attracted 42 exhibitors with general hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, long-term care providers and even the Canadian Armed Forces signing up for an opportunity to speak to student nurses or already qualified RNs and RPNs.

It's no wonder there's so much competition for these women -- and nursing is a woman's profession since it's about 93% female. Ottawa says registered nurses and nursing supervisors -- who must be RNs, of course -- have an unemployment rate that's virtually invisible: 0.8%. But there's more good news. At $23.07 an hour in 2002, an RN's pay was 35% more than the national average of $16.91.

But if you don't fancy nursing perhaps a career as a dental hygienist or dental therapist would be more to your liking. After all, it too provides some stats that other professions would kill for.
  • Employment rates in all health care sectors continue to beat national averages.
  • Registered nurses remain the most in-demand profession.
  • All public colleges in the GTA report employment rates from 80% to 100% in health-care occupations.
  • Given their attractive employment statistics upon graduation, many health-care courses are over subscribed.
  • The Canada Job Futures website ( provides an extensive overview of health-care employment.

  • As the federal government has remarked, "Canadians have more dental insurance coverage, and cosmetic use of dental prostheses are increasing." That's a function of age and affluence. After all, the oldest of the boomers will be 59 this year and they're usually better off and unwilling to surrender the smiles they flashed at Rolling Stones' concerts 35 years ago.

    The rate of new job creation for dental hygienists and dental therapists is about 6.5%, Ottawa has found, which is significantly faster than the 2% experienced elsewhere.

    Last year, registered practical nurses and paramedics were the job champs (RNs are champions emeritus), with official numbers showing that there was 100% employment for graduates of those programs within six months of their graduation.

    Who can say what profession will take top spot this year? Most of them have a legitimate shot at the title. One way to check are the public colleges' websites. They post employment rates for all programs in the fall or early in the New Year.

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