The coronavirus pandemic has had a deep impact on the healthcare industry, including the workforce needed to manage our response to the virus. As COVID-19 continues to cycle through the loop of detection, tracing, and more recently, vaccination, new jobs have emerged to bolster our efforts in this fight.
Mike Puleo, Senior Director of Career Services at Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), is doing his part in that by helping clients fill the rising demand for COVID-19-related jobs. Puleo and his teams have longstanding partnerships with a range of healthcare companies across the country, who need skilled graduates to fill a growing number of open positions. Typically, his Career Services advisors assist candidates in landing allied healthcare roles like medical billing and coding specialist, medical office assistant or patient care assistant. These days, he’s seeing an increasing need to fill new positions that are driven by a familiar theme — COVID-19.
Puleo’s teams are focused on helping job-ready grads get coronavirus-related positions, roles that may not have existed just a few months ago. As the coronavirus continues to cycle through its stages across the U.S., it’s created demand for new jobs that healthcare employers are eager to fill.
As the pandemic shifts, new job opportunities arise
One of the first of the pandemic-related roles to materialize was for contact tracing, a job which tens of thousands of Americans applied for last May¹, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
“Hundreds of contact tracers are still being hired across the country and we have assisted numerous grads with securing a position in this role,” Puleo recalls from the early days of COVID-19 last year. “For someone who is looking to work from home and has the right technology requirements, this job can be a good fit.”
Since this role requires a strong Internet connection and reliable computer, companies are recognizing the need to support their new hires with the necessary technology setup and training. Contact tracing can be a good match for people with strong interpersonal skills and it can be easily done from home. However, this type of work involves having candid conversations around personal details, so adding a level of training may be helpful.
Like UMA, organizations who offer healthcare staffing solutions see the benefit of developing no cost online training mods that candidates can use to broaden their skillset and enhance their potential success in contact tracing, customer service and other jobs.
As the coronavirus swept across the country in 2020, the need for COVID-19 testers became urgent. Typically, COVID-19 testers are registered nurses or certified nurse assistants since a level of experience is required to perform the nasal or oral swab test. Demand for this job is expected to continue as companies and organizations reopen over the next several years.
Now that the coronavirus pandemic has shifted into a robust national vaccination effort, so too has the demand for workers to support the vaccine rollout. There is a major push to hire vaccine schedulers and vaccine administrator jobs — the providers who will help millions of Americans schedule and receive their vaccinations in a variety of work environments.
“Nearly every state is looking for workers to fill these roles right now due to the vaccine rollout. We’ve worked on hundreds of vaccine scheduler positions so far,” Puleo noted. “This role offers growing potential for those who have a calling to make a difference in the COVID-19 fight while gaining more experience in the healthcare field.”
Vaccine schedulers help patients in hospitals, physician clinics or other settings get scheduled for their COVID vaccine. Patience and strong communication skills will be key in these scheduling roles, as workers can expect a large volume of calls and on-site interaction due to surge in people clamoring to receive the vaccine. Like contact tracing, vaccine scheduling is a flexible job that can be handled remotely. Vaccine administrators, those healthcare providers who are authorized to administer the vaccines to patients, is a function that is handled on site and may include managing paperwork or reporting important data points.
Large retail pharmacy chains are hiring pharmacy technicians
Late last year, as soon as the pharmaceutical companies received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to manufacture and distribute an effective coronavirus vaccine, leading retail pharmacy chains were forecasting to hire thousands of pharmacy technicians in preparation. Both Walgreens and CVS said they expected to hire roughly 10,000+ full-time and part-time² pharmacy technicians.
“Our partners have reached out to us for help in filling their staffing need for pharmacy technicians throughout the pandemic,” comments Stephanie Druding, Director of Career Services at UMA.
In addition to administering the COVID-19 tests at authorized retail locations, pharmacy techs may also help dispense medicine, work with customers’ prescription needs, and manage flu and other vaccinations.
She’s also seeing a new, remote pharmacy technician position emerge, one that will take on many of the coordination roles that are needed right now such as helping with insurance claims and coordinating information between the pharmacist and the doctor. Recently, a larger healthcare employer partner reached out to Druding and her teams for help sourcing recent UMA graduates for these work-from-home roles.
“COVID-19 has certainly redefined where your people can be most effective to achieve your end goals,” Druding comments about the additional remote jobs.
Another important job during the pandemic has been the temperature screener. For many organizations who are returning to some kind of office setting, the temperature screener is a function that has been added to the list of safety measures, providing a first line of defense on site. This role doesn’t have a defined skillset and could be open to a range of work experience. Some companies have even filled these positions with existing employees.
Supporting demand while providing support
Puleo reflects on the progress his team has made over the last year, despite the pandemic. “The support that’s been given to our students, our graduates, and our employer partners has been impressive. It’s helped us to become more nimble and adaptive, because our organization has done the same for us.” His teams have had some of the most productive months working remotely. “It’s really been an amazing year in that respect. We’re seeing higher retention and happier team members which makes us better partners to our clients and graduates,” Puleo said.
Demand for many of these newer positions is expected to remain strong as the vaccination effort surges and employers consider what changes may be permanent in the new office experience. Health facilities and healthcare companies will continue to look to their staffing partners to help them pivot with these changes. Nearly every company got a big dose of change last year whether they enabled their workforce from home or developed workarounds in their physical space, from new positions to new ways of working.
He continued, “We’ve placed 5,000 to 7,000 people every year. Our partners rely on our deep experience helping healthcare grads find jobs – especially these days during the pandemic.” Some of them will join the COVID-19 fight, some will help customers get the prescriptions that they need, and still others will help patients understand their bill. But all of them will learn the skills needed to impact patients and customers with care upon entering the workforce.
If you’re looking to fill your workforce with job-ready healthcare graduates at no cost to your organization, you can visit hireuma.com or connect with Career Services at UMA via email.
UMA’s Career Services team partners with healthcare organizations of varying scales, providing allied healthcare staffing solutions at no cost. This staffing team matches the growing needs of organizations with knowledgeable graduates from Ultimate Medical Academy, a nonprofit healthcare educational institution with a national presence for over 26 years.