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The Emerging and Expanding Role of Counselors in Healthcare

Posted Jun 07 2010 12:00am

A recent article listing and describing the fastest growing jobs in healthcare caught my eye (see: Fastest Growing Jobs in Health Care ). Below is the list from it that I have edited for the sake of brevity:

  • Physician assistants
  • Medical secretaries
  • Physicians and surgeons
  • Registered nurses
  • Counselors
  • Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
  • Billing and posting clerks and machine operators
  • Social workers
  • Receptionists and information clerks
  • Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
  • Pharmacists

I was pleased to see that clinical laboratory technologists and technicians made the list. but just barely. However, the  category that I found to be the most interesting, and that I have placed in boldface, is counselor. Here's how the job is described in the article: Counselors work in various health-care facilities to help clients overcome physical or mental health obstacles they are encountering. I recall the title of genetic counselor going back many years in hospitals. The reason for the emergence of this group of professionals, often with Ph.D.'s in genetics, was that the field was very complicated and most physicians and nurses were not trained to offer such advice to patients.

One conclusion that can be drawn from all of the above is that medicine is growing more complex and that the counseling function. previously performed primarily by physicians and nurses, is now being undertake by a new and growing set of professionals called healthcare counselors. To get a better understanding of this new category, I Googled the term and got 3,890 hits . One person whose web site showed up near the top of the search retrieval page described himself as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Holistic Healthcare Counselor . Quite a mouthful and a job description obviously designed to appeal to a broad swath of potential clients. It seems to be that on the basis of my search the terms coach and counselor are frequently being used interchangeably. In a recent note, I began to explore the differences among telephone boosters, health coaches, and web support groups (see: Enlistment of Telephone Boosters for Improved Chronic Disease Outcomes ). Clearly, counselors now need to be added to this list.

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