IS GERONTOLOGY A GOOD CA­REER OP­TION?

Friday - - Beauty -

Q I’m in high school and would like to pur­sue a ca­reer as­sist­ing el­derly peo­ple. Is it true that my chances of mi­grat­ing to the West are greater if I fol­low this ca­reer path?

AWith the world pop­u­la­tion fast grey­ing, de­mand for work­ers ed­u­cated in health sciences is bound to in­crease. This is es­pe­cially so for vo­ca­tions that in­clude car­ing for the aged. The global share of old peo­ple (de­fined as 65 and over) is ex­pected to in­crease from 8 per cent in 2014 to 13 per cent in 2030.

Sim­i­larly the old-age de­pen­dency ra­tio – the ra­tio of old peo­ple to those of work­ing age – is ris­ing. In 2010 the world had 16 old peo­ple for ev­ery 100 adults be­tween the ages of 25 and 64 (same as in 1980). But by 2035 the UN ex­pects this num­ber to have risen to 26 – a whop­ping in­crease of 63 per cent. While the de­mo­graph­ics of the fu­ture is crys­tal clear, the trend in some coun­tries is much more DR IKRAMULLAH AL NASIR pro­nounced – for in­stance Ja­pan and Ger­many will have 69 and 68 old peo­ple re­spec­tively for ev­ery 100 work­ing adults.

With an age­ing pop­u­la­tion the fo­cus will shift from acute care to treat­ment of chronic dis­eases, and as­sisted skilled and non-skilled med­i­cal care will be in high de­mand. So­cial work skills to work with the el­derly will need to be cul­ti­vated. The trend over time will be to make older adults age com­fort­ably but pro­duc­tively and in­de­pen­dently. It is es­ti­mated that one out of ev­ery four new jobs cre­ated in Amer­ica will be in health­care, so­cial as­sis­tance or pri­vate ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices.

To as­sist the el­derly you would need to pur­sue health­care pro­fes­sions such as nurs­ing, so­cial work and coun­selling re­quir­ing the study of bi­ol­ogy, so­ci­ol­ogy and psy­chol­ogy of the age­ing pop­u­la­tion. Sub­se­quently you could spe­cialise in the field of gerontology and this will open even more doors.

In ad­di­tion to for­mal qual­i­fi­ca­tions you would need the abil­ity to work well un­der pres­sure, deal calmly with emer­gen­cies, work within a team and com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively to in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal stake­hold­ers. Compassion and em­pa­thy are two per­sonal traits most re­quired in this pro­fes­sion.

While there is no am­bi­gu­ity in the over­all trend and op­por­tu­ni­ties in this field, be care­ful not to be lured into a vo­ca­tion/work per­mit trap. Yes, health ser­vices could be cat­e­gorised as jobs in high de­mand in some coun­tries, but you need to be cir­cum­spect while ap­ply­ing. Many agen­cies will make tall claims about em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties as­sur­ing you of work/res­i­dence per­mits. Do not be lured by such prom­ises and spe­cious ad­ver­tis­ing. Make sure the ser­vice provider has a track record and is recog­nised by the gov­ern­ment and im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. Be es­pe­cially wary of pri­vate col­leges who un­der the guise of pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion are ac­tu­ally ‘visa fac­to­ries’.

Re­mem­ber if it sounds too good to be true, then in all prob­a­bil­ity, it is.

is a lead­ing spe­cial­ist der­ma­tol­o­gist based in Dubai

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