Our society is being reshaped by a rising demographic tide. Never have so many people lived into the later stages of their lives so healthy and productively.
Between 1995 and 2007, the number of older workers on full-time work schedules nearly doubled while the number working part-time rose just 19 percent. As a result, full-timers now account for a majority among older workers. As the population gets older due to the Baby-boomer generations maturing, so does the number of maturing adults returning to the classroom for post-secondary education and vocational training programs to learn a new trade. Middle-aged adults are defined as persons 55-65 years of age, older are persons 65 years and older.
Older Population Seeking Work
The proportion of people 65 years and older is almost 13 percent of the U.S. population, and by the year 2030 it will be 20 percent. Studies conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data concluded that that about 7 million new jobs will be added to the social sector between now and 2018, and that 5.9 million of the positions available will be well suited for older workers. There will be many job opportunities in nursing, teaching and care giving roles including, nurses, instructors, home health aides, nursing aids, orderlies, attendants, and medical assistants.
The Department of Labor Division of Industry Employment Projections further estimates that the number of workers over the age of 54 will represent 23.9 percent of the labor force and workers between the ages of 65 and 74 will soar by 83.4 percent by 2016.
Seniors are going to need to continue to work to finance their retirement years and as these people hit the job market, hiring doctors, and other clinicians will have to determine whether they want to hire a younger, middle-aged, or older person for available medical assistant positions; see BLS Division of Industry Employment Projections chart: percent of labor force by age group.
Benefits of Doctors Hiring Mature Workers
Mature workers are known to perform better across the range of relevant performance indicators — better interpersonal skills, better attendance, more motivated and conscientious, able to make quicker decisions and so on. As employers recognize the value they bring to their business, earnings of older workers have also risen at a slightly faster pace than the total workforce. Among these employers are doctors who find older medical assistants for their practice a perfect fit because they appreciate the fact that a mature worker has a deeper understanding and compassion for people and are dedicated to them in a meaningful way – after years of work in an unfulfilling job. Hiring an older applicant also gives them personal fulfillment knowing that they are putting a mature person to work allowing them to apply their passions to the greater good of their patients and the community.
Seasoned Medical Assistant Worker’s Challenges
Unfortunately, working in a medical office can also become quite hectic and busy at the drop of a hat; for example in a general family and primary care practice, the busiest season is the so-called flu season, and the medical assistant must be able to handle the stress, react fast, and keep up with the fast pace. While and older person is likely not to get as flustered under stressful situations as a younger person, fresh out of high school, there are studies which show that older workers have a harder time physically, compared to their younger counterparts and may have a harder time adjusting to new technologies and technical devices, for example technology used in this occupation are:
- Accounting, billing and bookkeeping software
- Email and word processing software
- Medical and patient management software (e.g. EMR)
- Visual electro diagnostic software
- Business software applications
Further more, suitable candidates for medical office position are expected to be on their feet for several hours without a break, good hand – eye coordination, and have excellent near vision to see details at close range (such as the calibration markings on syringes, reading small print on medication labels, visualization of skin changes, identifying objects and seeing veins to draw blood). They must be able to work with a professional group or team and participate in face-to-face discussions with doctors, nurses and their colleagues.
The website Practitioners Working With Older Adults – What Practitioners Should Know About Working With Older Adults dispels myths about older adults and raises awareness among physicians and practitioners about seasoned workers.