Healthcare Industry One of the Best Places to Restart a Career

As published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, May 3, 2021

Federal unemployment benefits for those displaced by the pandemic are set to expire early in September. Between now and then, those who have lost their jobs have a unique opportunity to take advantage of millions of federal and state dollars for short- and long-term training that can help them “restart” their careers in new industries and new jobs, potentially jobs that pay more.

One of the best industries to explore, especially for those who have great customer service skills from the hospitality and retail industries, is the Healthcare Industry. And you don’t have to be great with needles to find an ABUNDANCE of opportunity in healthcare, with the right qualifications.

Las Cruces serves as a major medical hub for southern New Mexico and attracts patients from across the region. A full range of medical specialties are available here, which requires a highly-skilled, highly-diverse, and culturally-competent workforce to step into a comprehensive set of careers available in this industry…most which provide enormous opportunities for advancement.

Healthcare and Social Assistance, as an industry, accounts for one out of five workers in Doña Ana County. There are nearly 1,000 employers, who posted 1,300 jobs in March 2021. Historically, Healthcare has been the largest, fastest-growing, and best-paying industry on average in the county. What we learned is that these jobs primarily pay above our county’s median income of $40,973, and they provide benefits to their employees, including tuition assistance to help those who want to advance in their skills.

Despite the slight dip in Healthcare employment caused by the pandemic, hiring continues at a rapid pace, with close to 800 job openings as of this writing (April 2021).

In an effort to gain a clear understanding of the holistic talent needs of the Healthcare Industry’s employers, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, in partnership with the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, convened representatives of five local healthcare employers (including the two largest) to participate in an Industry Roundtable to understand their workforce needs and challenges: Mountain View Regional Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Mesilla Valley Hospital, Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico, and Warren and Law Dental. 

What we found is that the workforce of these employers is broken nearly in half between licensed and non-licensed professionals and staff:

  • 954 Licensed Medical Professionals 
  • 679 Clinical Support Staff
  • 230 Administrative and Support Staff

Of the 50 hardest to fill jobs in our county, nearly half (23) were healthcare related. It’s not surprising the nurses are far and away the greatest need…that’s true nationwide. However, from our Roundtable members, some of the other occupations that are hardest to fill may be somewhat surprising: 

  • Cooks 
  • Office staff
  • Insurance Coordinator
  • Speech Language Pathologist 
  • Physical Therapist 
  • Pharmacist 
  • Dental Hygienist 
  • Licensed Therapist 
  • Dental Assistant 
  • Occupational Therapist 

We also learned what degrees, certificates, and experiences were most valuable to these employers.

Bachelor Degrees:

  • Nursing (by far the most requested)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Business Management
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Medical Technologist

Associate Degrees:

  • Nursing (by far the most requested)
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Dental Assisting
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Radiology
  • Insurance Billing Coordinator
  • Medical Lab Assistant
  • Respiratory Therapist

Trade and Skill-Based Credentials:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Radiology Certification
  • Bookkeeping Skills
  • Phlebotomy
  • Insurance Billing Experience
  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Operating Room Tech
  • Chairside Experience

Top Five Jobs for Those with HS Diploma/GED:

  • Patient Care Tech
  • Receptionist
  • Admissions Representative
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Dental Assisting
  • Front Office Clerical Staff
  • Environmental Services
  • Cook/Dietary
  • Housekeeper
  • Admissions

Acting now to gain new skills, build on existing skills, and reimaging potential career destinations will ensure our people and our families come out of COVID economically strong and perhaps better than before the pandemic. 

For a full picture of what our Healthcare Industry Roundtable results revealed, please visit our website at, click on Career Pathways and then Healthcare