Careers in Healthcare have played an integral role in the caregiving of patients who have become infected with COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic sparked an increase in demand for a number of specific medical careers, especially those working on the front lines of the response. Between rising inpatient services, testing sites and emergency needs, healthcare workers are needed across a variety of healthcare environments. Professionals in healthcare careers are the ones the population relies on to help test patients, provide treatments, and assess health conditions. Here are 10 healthcare careers that are in high demand due to COVID-19:
Emergency Medical Technician
If a patient has a medical emergency due to COVID-19, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) will come to them to administer the necessary care as immediately as possible. EMTs play a vital role in responding to COVID-19-related requests for assistance, triaging patients, and the treatment and transport of ill or injured persons. This can involve responding to 911 calls, assessing a patient’s condition, determining a course of action and often providing first aid or life support.
In any situation, EMT professionals must act quickly while optimizing patient safety. Once they arrive at a hospital or other emergency healthcare location, Emergency Medical Technicians report all observations and treatments to the healthcare staff and document their procedures. They then take inventory, and replace and clean/decontaminate all supplies used during the patient transfer. Following protocol is extremely important to guarantee the safety of both EMTs and their patients.
“A career as an EMT can be described as intense, fast-paced, slow-paced, very rewarding at times and very heartbreaking at times. It is not your typical 9-to-5 routine career,” Tiffany Chugg, an Emergency Medical Technician in Kansas City, Mo., explained.
As the coronavirus is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, Epidemiologists (also known as Public Health Researchers) are needed to study the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases. This career in healthcare involves planning and directing various studies, and collecting and analyzing data to determine the underlying causes and patterns of diseases and injury in patients. Then these scientists communicate their findings to other staff members, health practitioners, policymakers or the general public. They may also manage planning public health programs, conduct interviews, survey and keep records.
“The career is rewarding because you get to make an impact and improve health on a broad, global scale,” Leah Burn, a public health researcher practicing in New Jersey, explained. “I would recommend the field to anyone who enjoys the sciences and is seeking to make a meaningful contribution to society.”
Home Health Aide
In response to COVID-19, nursing homes and care facilities have put guidelines in place to limit the number of people permitted inside these facilities, in order to limit exposure. However, Home Health Aides are in demand to continue to provide personal assistance to their patients by helping them bathe and dress. These professionals may also assist with housekeeping responsibilities, including laundry, washing dishes and vacuuming. HHAs may be responsible for organizing a patient’s schedule and transporting the patient to and from medical appointments. Other tasks of a home health aide include grocery shopping for their patients, keeping them engaged in their networks for communities, checking their pulse/temperature/respiration rate, administering medications, caring for injuries and helping them to pursue necessary lifestyle accommodations.
“Being a home health aide is very fulfilling,” Ashley Grenger, an HHA practicing in New Jersey, said. “You know you are helping someone who cannot help themselves and you are making their day a little easier and happier. This takes a lot of commitment, but is gratifying.”
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) whose goal is to provide specialty care to patients, including those with COVID-19. This care includes determining the most effective ways to improve or manage a patient’s overall well-being, while at the same time actively working toward proper diagnoses. These are highly-skilled, versatile professionals who help coordinate patient care and discuss health education and best practices with patients.
“In one day, I may see someone for a women’s wellness visit or a child with a respiratory virus. The possibilities are truly endless,” Penni Vachon, a Nurse Practitioner practicing in South Carolina, explained. “Day to day I am responsible for the well-being of my patients, which means I may have to call someone about some unexpected lab results or bring a patient into the office for an acute virus. I must be sure that before I leave the clinic everyday I have checked voicemail, email, labs, imaging results and referrals so nothing is missed.”
Occupational Therapy Assistant
An Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) is a healthcare professional who provides patients with therapies. These therapies are intended to help them perform all essential personal and professional activities, including during COVID-19, when these activities may become more challenging. For example, OTAs, supervised by an occupational therapist, will teach patients proper ways to move about to improve function, and to monitor activities for correctness in their completion. They also report patient progress and feedback back to the Occupational Therapist.
“A career as a Certified OTA is rewarding to see what influence you had on improving an individual’s overall life,” said Patricia Allen, COTA, a longtime occupational therapy assistant practicing in South Carolina.
The work of a Physician Assistant (PA) is very diverse, and therefore these healthcare professionals can take on a wide range of COVID-19 patient-related responsibilities. PA responsibilities include examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, ordering tests and providing treatments; including prescriptions as needed.
More generally, PAs assist their supervising family physicians in maintaining the overall efficiency of a practice or facility. The physician assistant must record health histories and engage in educating patients, parents or groups of people on best health practices or specific medical conditions. There are also times when these professionals are asked to perform research on various healthcare-related topics, such as advances in treatments or new medications.
“Being employed as a physician assistant is a very rewarding career that has allowed me to grow professionally and personally,” said Daryle Blackstock, a Senior Physician Assistant practicing in New York City. “The career allows me to tap into my caring and compassionate side, and grants me the opportunity to do good in this world by helping those in need.”
The stress of living through a pandemic, and the disruption the virus places on daily life, has led to an emphasis on mental health awareness. A career in healthcare as a Psychologist is in high demand because these professionals assess a patient’s cognitive, emotional and social behaviors and social processes. This is done in an attempt to understand their thoughts and feelings to reach clinical conclusions.
After an evaluation, Psychologists will interpret a patient’s behavior to determine if their condition warrants treatments or therapies which could be implemented to improve their well-being. Psychologists discuss the proposed treatment plans with their patients, conduct research and diagnose disorders. They may also test for emotional and behavioral patterns and write articles and papers to share findings with others in their field.
“Being a clinical psychologist is not an easy career,” Heidi G. Bank, Ph.D., a Licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in Nevada, stated. “In this role, you spend a lot of time listening to other people’s problems. However, your role is not to solve their issues, but rather to empower them to solve their own life challenges.”
The coronavirus increased the demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) in healthcare. As more patients come to hospitals and medical centers with COVID-19 symptoms, Registered Nurses are responsible for providing holistic patient care. This includes providing patient education and emotional support, assessing patients, recording vital signs and symptoms, developing treatment plans, assessing injuries and illnesses, and consulting with other healthcare professionals.
“A career in nursing is certainly very rewarding,” Lindsey Brust, a Registered Nurse practicing in North Carolina said. “Most days are tough and the work never ends. As Registered Nurses, we are there to witness miracles in life and death. We build emotional connections with patients, families and co-workers.”
The coronavirus is a respiratory illness. As Respiratory Therapists (RTs) assist patients who are having trouble breathing for a variety of reasons, this career in healthcare has grown in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. One function of a Respiratory Therapist is to connect patients who cannot breathe on their own to ventilators, which will do the work of breathing for them. This ensures that enough oxygen is delivered to the patients’ blood. Respiratory Therapists may also instruct caregivers on how to properly operate ventilators and other life-support systems.
“A lot of people don’t understand what respiratory therapy means, I basically say that I help people breathe,” explained Phuong Holland, a Respiratory Therapist who has practiced for almost a decade. “I also assist with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) throughout the hospital. I work with all age groups, from newborns to the elderly.”
Social and Human Services Assistant
Social and Human Services Assistants work with other health professionals such as social workers, family physicians, mental health aides and community support workers to provide their patients with a better quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for people and their families; company closures and layoffs often create scenarios where these families struggle financially. Social work assistants work to mitigate these challenging circumstances, helping clients locate benefits or community services.
Interacting directly with clients, Social and Human Services Assistants help to assess their clients’ situations to find out what kind of aid that they need and can be approved for. These professionals can further assist clients by offering them transportation or providing some degree of emotional support. As many people require more social services in order to be able to lead quality lives amid COVID-19, this position will continue to rise in demand.