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healthcare-specialist The number of Spaniards who work, directly or indirectly, in the Health Sector exceeds one million.  Some authors even venture two million, counting more indirect employees.  Surpassing the figure of one million is simple if we consider not only medical and pharmaceutical care, but related segments like elderly patients care, cosmetics, nutrition or animal health. 

An increase in the next decades can be foreseen, given the continuous demand of health on the part of the population. The key of this increase in Spain is that, -unlike what happened in previous generations-, more and more citizens are willing to pay from their own pocket a complement for some treatments, on top of the contribution via taxes. Every day we see a growing tendency to use dentists, paediatricians, ophthalmologists, gynaecologists, hearing aids, plastic surgeons, etc. All this growth is translated into an increase of the employment in the sector.

A differential characteristic of this personnel working in Health is the professional qualification, that is remarkable with respect to other sectors, arriving to have almost 600,000 registered professionals. Farmaindustria esteems that more of 40% of the personnel employed by the pharmaceutical industry has a specific qualification, and there, University degrees are more than a half.

Employment in this sector shares three vectors that condition their careers: 1) permanent innovation that forces to a continuing update of knowledge, 2) specific legislation and regulatory subjects – a formidable challenge for outsiders, and 3) the role of the prescriber, -not in all cases the doctor-.

In Spain the biggest employer in health is the public sector. However, that no longer consolidates numbers in which was denominated INSALUD, since from the beginning of the century our 17 autonomous communities (CCAA) have HR competences transferred and count on his own personnel (SAS, ICS, Osakidetza, Sermas,etc.) and to collect homogeneous data is now a titanic task. As a last consolidated reference, -at the end of year 2000-, INSALUD counted 29,310 physicians, 68,225 non-physicians and 38,195 non-sanitary, totalling 135,730 people. It seems likely that in these ten years the CCAA will be using more personnel, although the total figure is now imprecise.

The data of registered sanitary professionals by theINE in year 2007 offers another valuable reference with nearly 600,000 professional registered, although some could be professionally non-active.





ATS and DUE (Nurses)








Odonto and Estom.







Source: INE. Registered health professionals in 2.007

On another segment, the Pharmaceutical Industry employs more than 39,100 people according to Farmaindustria data of 2007. A tendency observed is the encouraging growth of R&D activities , employing 4,616 professionals almost a 12% of the total. In traditional Pharmaceuticals growth is coming from hospital specialties like Oncology, Transplant, orphan drugs, etc, with reductions now widespread in Primary Care, and therapeutic areas already well covered  like Digestive, Ostheoarticular, Respiratory, etc.

I have studied and worked all my life in the Bio Sciences world. This world has to do with cells, proteins, receptors, photosynthesis and so many other fascinating topics. At first sight, not much to do with the behaviour of humans at work.

16 years ago I redirected my career to become a Consultant on Executive Search in the Health Care field. I started without a clue of the HR background that might be expected, such as Psychology, Sociology or Human Relations.  I just was able to search for outstanding candidates, find them, assess their suitability to my client’s specifications and discuss with them (plus some persuasion…) if it was a good career move in his or her perspective. Most often than not, I was successful and that is the way I started to accumulate experiences about human behaviour. If you read this blog, you may well know much more about Healthy Resources than I do, and then your comments and suggestions are honestly welcome. My intention here is just to put together apparently unconnected worlds.

After some time (hours of briefings and candidates’ interviews during years! ) I realized that I was adding value to my clients as a Consultant. A common characteristic was the importance of innovation, often expressed as R&D activity. Companies with real drive for innovation were in need of adaptable executives, open-minded, able to grow and learn new markets and competences, multi-country (typically in Europe with different languages, markets and regulations) and unafraid of permanent change.  

Then I learned that this type of executives were also defined as Knowledge workers, present peculiar characteristics and are much more common in our generations than before the WW. In parallel I have the privilege to coordinate the Open Forums of the alumni of the IE Business School. Thus, in our round-tables we get fresh new ideas of the recent graduates put in contrast with the expertise of our speakers. An example could be last April, when Kent Anderson and Corrie Bridgeman from the Massachusetts Medical Society, (publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine; NEJM) travelled to Madrid with their colleagues of Drug Farma to present on “Physician 2.0” and why on-line fits. NEJM has been published since 1812 and is leading a revolutionary shift from paper to new IT. Another perspective was brought by Dr. Leandro Herrero on Organizational Architecture and…but we will have future posts to develop these ideas!