By Naomi Sheehan

The $2.8 trillion healthcare industry in the United States is so large that it’s practically an economy in itself. It is poised to grow – and change – dramatically over the next decade.

In fact, seven of the ten fastest growing careers are in healthcare, with Registered Nurses in especially high demand. The Labor Department projects the addition of about 440,000 new job openings for RNs through 2024, and nearly 700,000 retirements in the field. This makes a nursing degree a sure bet.

Sound investment

It’s a bet that pays off. Nursing is among the best paid healthcare professions, with a relatively smaller education and training investment. RNs are licensed by the state, but they typically also hold either an Associates or Bachelors in nursing. Many begin with a two-year degree and work their way up the education and pay ladders while working in the field.

Changes ahead

ranger_nursing_graphicThe demand for new healthcare professionals is due to some obvious – and some maybe not-so-obvious – reasons.

First, and most obvious: A generational changing of the guard is underway. The Baby Boom population is aging and they need more healthcare services.

There are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in US history, and by 2030, about one in five Americans, 69 million people, will be elderly. About 80 percent of this population has at least one chronic condition, according to the National Council on Aging.

About a third of the workforce, around 1 million RNs, is currently older than 50, creating enormous demand for replacements. The American Nursing Association projects a whopping 1.2 million openings will emerge for RNs through 2022, and by 2025, Vanderbilt University researchers estimate the vacancies will be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s.”

Second: People are living longer and more active lives, so the kinds of healthcare services in demand are changing. Physical therapists and nurses will play a big role in the next decade.

Third: Technology is revolutionizing, and personalizing, treatment. In 2016, millions of Americans will have had their first video health consultation, according to consulting firm PwC’s Health Research Institute. Millions more will be prescribed their first health apps on smartphones.

Ranger College, in cooperation with Brownwood Regional Medical Center, continue their partnership to train nursing students. Ranger College VN and ADN Programs graduated approximately 70 nurses in 2016 and more than 200 nurses over the last three years.

These nurses are working at various hospitals throughout Texas, many currently working in the Big Country. The college’s five campuses make it possible for students to attend classes close to home.

For details on the ADN/Bridge programs at Ranger College, visit:

Carolyn Zapata, MSN RN, Dean of Nursing 325-200-4132 or 325-200-4133.

For details on the LVN program at Ranger College (all campuses), visit:

Alice Murphy, Director of Vocational Nursing, 325-203-5013.