Healthcare careers in a post-coronavirus world may look a little bit different. In terms of sheer volume, it is not clear how many healthcare jobs will return in the short term. As for how healthcare services are delivered, no one really knows if traditional roles will remain the same. Everything from ambulatory care to allied health services could be forced to adapt to a new normal.
For the record, recent numbers show that the healthcare sector has shed 679,000 jobs for the year. Hospitals have lost 104,000 while ambulatory jobs are down by 348,000. There is a ray of hope in that 75,000 jobs were added across the entire sector in August (2020).
Although the healthcare industry’s rebound slowed in August as compared to July, adding jobs is always a good thing. A BLS analysis suggests healthcare trends are indicative of the greater economy as a whole. As the economy grows and expands, healthcare should continue its recovery.
Fewer Elective Procedures
Among the biggest losers of the coronavirus crisis are providers of elective procedures. As we all know, hospitals and clinics shut down elective procedures as soon as it was apparent that we had a crisis on our hands. And even though such procedures have resumed in most places, patients are still showing reluctance to press forward.
Some patients are afraid to have previously scheduled procedures due to ongoing coronavirus concerns. Others have decided not to spend the money. They have lived without the procedures for this long; they are willing to wait a bit longer or not have them done at all.
In either case, fewer elective procedures may force both clinical and allied workers to start thinking about career moves. If elective procedures never return to pre-coronavirus levels, there just won’t be enough jobs available.
A Greater Emphasis on Technology
We cannot truly measure the impact coronavirus has had on healthcare careers without looking at technology. Healthcare delivery is now leaning decidedly toward the contactless paradigm, preferring remote care whenever possible. Telemedicine is fast emerging as the most efficient and effective model of offering non-critical care.
Some forms of healthcare delivery respond very nicely to technology. For example, telemedicine works very well for primary care. Yet other forms are hindered by technology. To the extent that telemedicine becomes the norm, healthcare jobs will shift. Workers may become more tech minded and less medically necessary.
Entirely New Careers
Health Jobs Nationwide suggests that the combination of changing patient preferences in new delivery technology could lead to the creation of entirely new healthcare careers. As a point of reference, we can look back on how allied healthcare came to be following World War II.
Prior to the war, medicine was not nearly as specialized as it quickly became after. It was the war that introduced the technologies and methodologies that made so many areas of medicine so specific. And with the rise of those technologies and methodologies came the need for specialized workers with incredibly detailed knowledge in one particular area.
The same type of thing could occur in the modern era. For example, do not be surprised to see entirely new positions created around the telehealth model. Workers with specialized knowledge in telehealth technology could become the main players in healthcare delivery within a few years.
Hundreds of thousands of healthcare jobs were lost as a result of the coronavirus crisis. And even as those jobs are starting to return, a reshuffling is underway. Things are never going to be the same as they were in January. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.