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How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Impacted the HCP Workforce

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Key Takeaways

  • Opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic include temperature screeners, hotline workers, and testing technicians.
  • Digital positions that have been created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed for a more digitally-savvy HCP workplace.
  • HCPs can take advantage of these opportunities as part-time positions outside of their regular jobs.

COVID-19 has created additional opportunities for frontline health workers and healthcare providers (HCPs) outside of their regular positions, despite a spike in unemployment (14.7% in April 2020) and an increase in unemployment benefits among Americans.1,2

 These jobs include contact tracers and COVID-19 calling managers, COVID-19 hotline workers, temperature screeners, and COVID-19 testing technicians. Additionally, new opportunities in the digital space are expected to be created within the next 5 years following the COVID-19 pandemic, including software development, data analysis, and machine learning.3 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Americans work, the environments in which they work, and how businesses have to better protect their employees. “The demand for new safety-related roles will continue to grow, and companies will continue to evolve their workplace practices with stricter health protocols and more flexible work options,” said Patrick Beharelle, CEO of TrueBlue, a recruiting and staffing firm based in Tacoma, Washington.4

COVID-19 hotline workers and contact tracers

A COVID-19 hotline is a number that patients can call that connect patients and clinicians to resources and information about respiratory illness symptoms and self-isolation techniques with the goal of appropriately referring patients to the emergency department and/or a health clinic.5 Jobs such as hotline managers, hotline supervisors, other hotline workers, and scheduling coordinators all have been created within hotline agencies. Calls are answered by people with many different backgrounds, including health physicists, HCPs, safety professionals, and administrative policy experts. 

Contact tracers–people who call those who may have been exposed to coronavirus, provide health guidance, and assist people with setting up appointments for COVID-19 testing–have also become popular, especially as this position can be done remotely.4 

“As of June 5, the share of contact-tracing-related postings increased by 959% compared to May 1,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at job-search site Indeed. “Despite this, the number of contact tracing positions remains very small—well below what health experts are saying is needed to safely open the country. As more of these jobs will need to be filled in coming weeks, hopefully job-seeker interest will buck the current downward trend.”4 

Temperature screeners

In March 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave employers the right to check temperatures upon entry to their facility. Restaurants, sporting arenas, airports, and office buildings are all permitted to check temperatures upon entry, creating thousands of jobs for temperature checkers. Health screeners might also ask questions to flag the presence of COVID-related symptoms and educate customers on the processes they will need to follow during their visit.6

“Temperature-taking-related postings took off in early April and have continued to rise,” stated Konkel. “As of June 6, the share of temperature-taking-related job postings increased by 45% compared to May 1.”4

COVID-19 testers

Frontline health workers and HCPs can apply to be COVID-19 testers at healthcare clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, or offices. Many of these roles are filled by registered nurses or nursing assistants who have been carefully trained in testing procedures. These positions can be part-time and are great for HCPs looking for additional work outside their regular jobs. These jobs, of note, require employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as indicated in the job title. 

“This is particularly striking—that employers are calling out in the title of the job posting that personal protective equipment is available,” said Konkel. “This shows that coronavirus is weighing on the minds of job seekers, and employers know it.”

Digital opportunities

Microsoft predicts 149 million new jobs will be created in the next 5 years thanks to the global pandemic.7 Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and author, shared an article on how the pandemic is accelerating digitalisation in which he claimed industries such as software development, cloud and data, data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, and privacy and trust will all significantly expand (67%, 15%, 13%, 4%, and 1%, respectively).7

The expansion of the digital space allows for significant advancements for HCPs both in practice and out. AI will better be able to sort through patient data, telemedicine systems can allow for patients in rural areas to access specialized care, cognitive technology can identify patterns that help predict diseases and catch them early, and advancements in patient portals will provide increased safety and security of patient information.8 

“Demand for many of these jobs has risen quickly and is expected to grow further in the coming months,” stated Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. “Many of these jobs will be around until the virus is eliminated. It may take one to two years to get a vaccine, and even then it may not be eradicated, so these jobs will last as our approach shifts from quarantine and social distancing to risk mitigation.”4

To find local pandemic jobs in your area, click here

  1. Fronstein P, Woodbury SA. How many Americans have lost jobs with employer health coverage during the pandemic? The Commonwealth Fund website. Published October 7, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.  
  2. Nova A. Without the coronavirus pandemic, these jobs probably wouldn’t have existed. CNBC. Updated June 1, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.  
  3. Covid-19 pandemic leading to the creation of new digital jobs – leading macroeconomic influencers. Pharmaceutical technology website. Updated October 13, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.  
  4. Maurer R. New types of jobs emerge from COVID-19. SHRM website. Published June 18, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.
  5. Bernhardt JM, Chittle M, Marden J, Sawicki D. COVID-19 pandemic creates new roles for advanced practice providers. Clinical Advisor. Published December 17, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.
  6. Newsome P. 9 new jobs created by COVID-19. 4 Corner resources website. Published July 14, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.
  7. Santamaria C, Winkleman A. The graphic truth: new digital jobs in a post-pandemic world. Gzero media website. Published September 20, 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.
  8. Majdi L. 17 Technology innovations that will influence the future of digital healthcare. Cox BLUE website. Accessed January 4, 2021.  

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