Health care tech workers in high demand
A high percentage of older adults in the region means hospitals need support staff to monitor heart-related ailments, so cardiac monitor technicians are among the most in-demand technical jobs, officials say.
UPMC, the region's dominant health care provider, places most of its in-patients on cardiac monitors, said Lauren Lloyd, the hospital system's director of recruitment. Among Allegheny County's 1.2 million residents, 17 percent were at least 65 in 2010, Census data show.
Cardiac monitor technicians and patient care technicians fall under the category of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants, Lloyd said. The Pittsburgh metro area has 16,771 jobs in that category, about 8 percent of them vacant, according to the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, Downtown. The median hourly wage is $12.48.
The field had the second-largest number of employees among Pittsburgh area health care jobs in 2011, second only to the area's 31,380 registered nurses. Yet, turnover is steady, hospital officials said.
"It's very demanding. You are expected to support the nurses and make sure that all the work is really getting done. But at the same time, you're supposed to be providing an excellent patient care experience to all those patients," Lloyd said.
UPMC calls its cardiac monitor technicians "patient care technicians" and hires about 500 of them each year to support about 10,000 nurses. Some use the job as a stepping stone, Lloyd said. UPMC pays the technicians $23,000 to $36,000 annually and usually has about 100 openings for the job.
The jobs of cardiac monitor and patient care technician at West Penn Allegheny Health System, the second-largest hospital system in the region, have been separate. But cardiac monitors found the work monotonous, which increased turnover, said Irv Naar, president of talent acquisition.
The heath system is starting to combine the positions, starting at Allegheny General, Naar said. West Penn Allegheny pays the technicians $27,000 to $33,300 annually, he said. It started the year with 23 openings for the job.
Sometimes, even technical jobs that pay well and require only two-year degrees or trade school certifications are hard to fill because people don't know they exist, said Pat Raffaele, vice president of advocacy and communications for the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania, a Cranberry-based group that represents hospitals in 32 counties.
"Everybody thinks about health care as a nurse, a doctor ... but there is so much more behind that," said Raffaele.
A federal law that will penalize health care providers for failing to use electronic health records by 2015 will spur most of Greensburg-based Excela Health's technology-related hiring, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said.
Excela is expecting a great need for health information technology and information management professionals, Jennings said.
"I think that we'll find more and more people will be looking for that field for their continuing education, even in terms of our own staff," she said.
Community College of Allegheny County offers a health information technology program and the University of Pittsburgh has a program in health information management.
Other careers in demand that require at least two-year college degrees are in imaging, such as diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists and radiologic technologists and technicians. Hourly wages are $24.51, $25.27 and $21.97, respectively, in this region.
Crafton resident Brianna Reitz wanted to work in a hospital but didn't want to spend more than two years in college. She became a radiology technologist.
Reitz, 23, who earned an associate degree from Penn State-New Kensington, has worked at Allegheny General Hospital for five years. The job is gratifying but challenging, she said.
"It's high stress, high volume. It takes a lot of critical thinking, a lot of patience."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Retailers court web customers with free shipping
- Stakes high as ex-Saints receiver Moore faces his former team
- Black Friday trends, tactics change, but Americans still love bargains
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- U.S. military shifts strategy to smaller Iraq force
- Flurry of business activity enlivening quaint Saxonburg
- Youngwood Fire Department to dedicate memorial at station
- Salvation Army taking iconic red kettles online
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Allegheny County Council wants to hike members’ $3K expense accounts
- Light of Life offers ‘More Than A Meal’ Thanksgiving event