The US an aging population is aging, and the country is not graduating enough healthcare workers to meet their needs.

The caregiver shortage in the US is part of a worldwide trend. In a recent study the World Health Organization estimated an expected shortfall of 12.9 million healthcare workers by 2035. While this shortage is a challenge for healthcare providers and potentially worrying for healthcare consumers, it is being addressed in a variety of ways, some of which are good news for those seeking employment in healthcare.

According to the CDC, as of 2012 half of all adults in the US  had one or more chronic health conditions, including common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. 86% of healthcare spending is for patients with one or more chronic conditions. While physicians and highly trained specialists are capable of treating these conditions once they have escalated into imminent life-threatening diseases, there are other professions that are better equipped to handle and help prevent these conditions before they become urgent. As treatment moves toward prevention, demand for rehabilitation therapists, jobs for registered nurses and surgical technologists rises.

“This really confirms what we’re seeing in the travel nurse employment market,” says Diane C., Account Manager at healthcare employment agency, American Traveler. “Take a career like Physical Therapy. Sooner or later many of us will need rehabilitation therapy, whether it’s at home or in a hospital setting. The number of senior baby boomers is growing, and the demand for therapists, nurses and critical care staff is growing right along with it.”

Not only is there growing demand for permanent nursing and allied healthcare professional staff, there is also steady demand for contingent workers in those fields. Healthcare employers across the U.S. are reaching out to healthcare staffing firms to bolster existing staff with travel nurses in every specialty. Travel nurses earn excellent salary and benefits, and for those with a healthy dose of wanderlust, it can be an amazing and unique career choice.

We know that no industry, not even healthcare, is immune to the economic downturn, but we also know that travelers can take unique advantage of shifting demands in staffing needs. In one area of the country there may be an overabundance of workers with a given specialty, while in another area, hospitals may be looking to pay top dollar for that very same specialty. That’s when travel jobs can offer a real advantage. They can allow you to travel to where the need is greatest and the compensation is best. If you’ve chosen travel nursing or travel therapy, you’ve chosen wisely!