December 15, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Erie Family Health Centers
Idaho State University
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Healthcare Technology Management
BS Healthcare Administration
IHRSA, The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
Erie Family Health CentersWebsite
Valeria J. Stokes RN, BSN, MSN, EdD: Health care is a very robust sector for employment. There are many career choices available that have positions that range from clinical jobs such as first responders, physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff. Additionally, there are a variety of work environments such as military, education, hospitals, ambulatory care, health and surgical care centers, and community health centers as well as occupations that include emergency medical technicians, X-ray techs, nutritionists, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, and behavioral and mental health care specialists.
Individuals may enter healthcare employment without extensive formal education and receive on the job training as medical, lab, and patient care technicians. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the value and importance of those persons working in health care, and the opportunities offer numerous choices for entry from basic high school education to that of collegiate and advanced education and training.
Dr. Felisa Albert: Since this pandemic has shined a light on this country's history of racism and racial health disparities, I believe there will be an increase in the job market as it relates to health care, public service, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). As society continues to become more diverse based on race and ethnicity and with racism no longer being ignored but instead called out, we are seeing an emergence of leaders of color not only in the health professions but also various businesses, organizations, and institutions that are committed to developing policies and practices rooted in racial and social justice.
Dr. Felisa Albert: If a graduate in the field of healthcare administration and other health professions wants to take a gap year, I would suggest he or she work on cultural awareness and sensitivity. Unquestionably, this is a skill set that is important across all areas of professions, but more importantly when working with people.
Cultural awareness encourages a person to learn about other cultures, practices, languages, traditions, and beliefs. When people are seeking to learn about other cultures, it creates the space for them to be open to those differences by learning and understanding at the level of both hearts and minds. Having this awareness will increase cultural sensitivity, which is only evident based on actions that are respectful, inclusive, and empowering for all.
Learning how to work with people is not learned by reading a book or passing a test. The only way to strengthen these interpersonal and cross-cultural skills is to practice outside of one's comfort zone and spend purposeful and meaningful time within different cultures. Also, one must be courageous enough to ask him or herself these questions:
-Why do I believe what I believe?
-Where do my biases come from?
-What has influenced my thinking about this thing?
-Why do I react the way I do when this happens?
When cultural awareness and sensitivity are viewed as part of social responsibility - intentional and practiced - it creates the space for intellectual diversity or, in other words, deepened conversations of exploration and learning of oneself. People can then share diverse ideas, thoughts, and perceptions about the ways intellectual diversity has informed, shaped, and changed their worldviews over time.
Dr. Felisa Albert: I would like graduates beginning their career to understand that their journey is not a race but a self-discovery journey. One might start off on one track and later on realize that path is no longer the one they want to pursue. If that happens, please remember: be patient, and believe in yourself and the process in order to clear the mind of self-doubt. The number one goal is to find what one is passionate about, what gives one energy, and what makes the soul happy.
Because everyone has gifts for the world, a person should take action steps to find out what those are by journaling, creating a vision board, meditating, praying, or brainstorming with those who one is familiar with and, more importantly, who can support the exploratory process in that moment. One must remember to always set goals, reach goals, make new goals, and repeat.
College gives the foundation, but now the real world is going to give the test. Embrace the challenge. Stay current and knowledgeable about the professions of choice. One shouldn't be afraid to ask questions and for help, so find a mentor or coach to help guide in the process. The world owes you nothing; therefore, understand there will be obstacles, so creating action plans are necessary to stay focused and to keep moving with a vision in place.
Idaho State University
College of HealthWebsite
Velma Payne Ph.D.: The COVID pandemic confirms the need for skilled personnel in Health Informatics. Informatics is the 'Science of Information.' It involves presenting the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format to enable them to make the right decision (we call this the five rights).
Trained Health Informaticists are needed to capture and analyze data to make sense of this pandemic and present information that helps people deal with the difficult time we live in. It is essential to track the virus, identify the hot spots, determine the extent of community spread, analyze statistics on the number of cases and deaths, and provide information to various stakeholders to make informed decisions.
It is anticipated the pandemic will increase interest in Informatics and Data Analyst careers and result in more individuals pursuing formal training in Health Informatics.
The pandemic has warranted faculty and students the opportunity to have access to COVID data to analyze and perform empirical research and apply theory and concepts to real-world situations.
Velma Payne Ph.D.: Graduates will need strong analytical, technical, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. Understanding concepts of informatics, including data acquisition, information processing, and dissemination, is also critical. There are multiple avenues of pursuit in Health Informatics, including extraction and analysis of data from electronic health systems; development of healthcare applications for use by various users including providers, healthcare administrators, and patients; and analysis of health data to identify patterns and trends of diseases, diagnoses, and drug and treatment efficacy specific to patient populations. Interpersonal skills are necessary for teamwork, and written and oral communication skills are essential.
Velma Payne Ph.D.: Experience organizations look for include competency in Health Informatics and a strong foundation in data storage and extraction, knowledge of relational database management systems such as SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Oracle, etc., and query languages such as Structured Query Language (SQL). Analytical skills and statistical applications such as R, SAS, SPSS, and advanced Excel functions are crucial. Data dissemination and visualization skills using packages such as Power BI, Tableau, Excel, etc., is essential. Application development skills demonstrate the ability to develop systems for platforms such as the Internet, cloud, and mobile devices using languages and development tools such as Python, Microsoft .Net and Amazon AWS will make a candidate stand out. Although not imperative, it helps individuals interested in a Health Informatics career to know the healthcare system.
Dr. Alice Elaine McDonnell: Primarily, their internship experience as well as any other project or applied assignments completed as a contribution to the community.
Dr. Alice Elaine McDonnell: Technology will create more new job openings in the health care field. Advances in technology will require exciting positions as innovations are evident.
Dr. Alice Elaine McDonnell: As the field of public health presents new challenges/issues, professionals will be needed for wellness education and research. New leadership is needed for reinventing and strengthening our public health systems. Therefore, our graduates are going to be in demand to enhance progress and share a new vision for public health. Our graduates will need to respond more quickly to these challenges.
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
Department of AnatomyWebsite
Dr. Jorge Pérez Rivera: Growth in health care fields from technicians to MD's, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and information technology specialists
Dr. Jorge Pérez Rivera: Improvements in the transmission of information, distance teaching and learning, digital technology to augment the absence/reduction of cadaveric dissections.
Dr. Jorge Pérez Rivera: Right now, there is a need for trained professionals to teach Anatomy, Physiology, and Anatomy/Physiology to all of the professionals that will be needed. This need will grow exponentially as the demand for the professional's increases.
Department of Anthropology
Shan- Estelle Brown: Given the pandemic, there will be an increased demand for people working in healthcare to support/relieve the healthcare workers who are just so exhausted at this point - long-term job burnout among existing workers is something I'm concerned about, so we're going to need skilled people to step in as permanent substitutes in case some of these people retire early - that goes for any frontline position right now.
Shan- Estelle Brown: Ultimately, technologies to help people connect and stay connected to each other are going to continue to be terribly important, during and after the pandemic, but I also think tools to help us think about the novel and creative solutions to problems will also grow in popularity. I certainly want to advocate here for ethnography as a research method that requires active listening and observation, participant observation, and interacting with people in order to deeply understand them. This method is particularly useful for understanding beliefs and behaviors in any local context.
Shan- Estelle Brown: I see an increase in demand for Anthropology graduates, but the onus is still going to be on the graduates to translate their knowledge and skills to their future careers. Anthropology students know quite a bit about the big problems facing humanity and know a lot about the need for empathy. It's empathy, critical thinking, and knowledge of the culture that anthropology students use and understand that will be really important in the next five years for contributing to community resilience in the years post-COVID-19, especially since another pandemic will come.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
School of OptometryWebsite
Trenton Cleghern: It would be hard to say the best "companies." Optometrists work in various practices ranging from private practice, hospital, commercial, and academic institutions. It depends on what you are looking for in your career. I would say the rules that allow you to practice high-quality medical eye care are the best practices.
Trenton Cleghern: You would expect an increase in demand in the next five years due to the aging population. As the population ages, you see more cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases.
Trenton Cleghern: There is a significant need for optometrists in rural areas.
Healthcare Technology Management
Danielle C. McGeary: The job market for Medical Equipment Repairers, more commonly referred to as Biomedical Equipment Technicians (BMETs), will exponentially continue to grow, given the pandemic. Patients don't often think about everything that goes on behind the scenes in a hospital, but BMETs are critical to making sure a modern hospital works, and this job occupation became prevalent in this most recent pandemic, since COVID-19, a respiratory virus, amplified the vital need for safe and functional life supporting technology, such as ventilators so critically ill people could have access to the care they desperately needed. BMETs can be found in every hospital in the United States and across the world. BMETs are subject matter experts for fixing, troubleshooting, and testing medical devices, and many have received specialized training from medical equipment manufacturers on the proper use and maintenance of these devices. Additionally, BMETs are a critical knowledge base for equipment planning, purchase, installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and on-call technical support.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, BMETs have been working alongside of doctors and nurses by helping to set-up and test ventilators and other critical medical equipment, find creative solutions through health technology to minimize clinician expose to the virus, help source and find medical equipment that was in dire need, and quickly help create and stand up new care units, specifically for COVID-19 patients. BMETs have been working long hours alongside clinicians in hospitals this entire pandemic, and have proven their presence is essential to a safe and functioning hospital. With the advent of new technologies, such as telehealth, that allow patients to receive care from their homes, BMETs will be at the forefront of the implementation of these health technologies to ensure it is secure, functional, and seamlessly integrates with existing technologies.
Danielle C. McGeary: It's a really exciting time to consider a career as a BMET since COVID-19 has really redefined how healthcare system's deliver care. With the growth of existing telehealth programs and the emphasis of "Hospital at Home", BMETs will be at the forefront of implementing and supporting these technologies. The term medical equipment repairer, greatly underscores all that these highly skilled professionals do for hospitals. Medical devices are no longer stand-alone; they are now all part of networked systems that talk to one another. This is how your health information gets from a medical device to an app on your phone. BMETs work hand-in-hand with hospital IT departments to ensure this all works. And as technology continues to expand outside hospital walls, BMETs are essential to the future state of telemedicine as a permanent fixture of the U.S. healthcare system. BMETs will also play a large role in supporting other emerging technologies in healthcare such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), surgical robots, and 3D printing.
Danielle C. McGeary: The Medical Device industry is currently valued at $173 billion in the United States and is projected to grow to $208 billion by 2023 causing the need for BMETs to also grow. Technology that hospitals depend on is always changing and expanding and; therefore, there is always a steady demand for BMETs. If you choose this career path, you WILL get a job. Additionally, the BMET field is also facing the threat of an aging workforce as 60% of BMETs are over the age of 50. When you combine the aging workforce with the continuous changes and growth in health technologies, the need for BMETs in the next 5 year is astronomical.
BS Healthcare Administration
Jill Carlson: The experience that stands out to me is longevity at a job, activity, or volunteering, even if it is not related to their new field. Seeing a new graduate with a lot of short time employment can raise a red flag. It does not matter to me if the work they did was in a non-related field for several years prior to changing careers. I love to see that. I would rather see that than someone who may have worked in their new field but has had one year here and one year there. I want an employee who is committed. I know that things happen that cause an employee to leave, but when there is a history of it, then it can say something about the prospective employee. I know that a new graduate may have many short time or temporary jobs during college, so then they just need to make sure they can explain that it was seasonal, temporary, or contract.
If a new graduate went right from high school to college or a career school, I would look for commitment to a hard subject (i.e. four years of a foreign language) or commitment to a sport or activity. Volunteering is also a great way to stand out.
Another way for a new graduate to stand out is to take any type of certification for their field. For example, if they are going to be a medical assistant then they need to sit for a certification exam, even if it is not required to work in the area they live. This shows commitment to going above and beyond what is required of them, which leads me to believe that they will do the same as my employee.
Jill Carlson: This one is a little bit harder. It really depends on the field that they are going to start working in after the gap. If they are a Medical Laboratory Technician, then it can be hard to enhance skills outside of a lab setting. I would recommend that they keep up with any professional journals and get involved with their professional organization so they can stay current in the field. If the new career requires computer skills, then online tutorials are a great way to keep up with the various programs.
I am a big believer in volunteering, when possible. Right now, with the state of our country, it may be difficult to get a volunteer position, but it would certainly be worth the effort if a new graduate could enhance their skills or even learn some new skills in their area of study. It is also a great idea for a new graduate to remember that most career colleges have a process in which a graduate, at any time, can come in and audit classes. For graduates, this is a great opportunity to make sure that they are still competent to perform the tasks that they learned before they enter the workforce.
Jill Carlson: In all areas of employment, I really think that we will see more people working from home and, therefore, new graduates need to be proficient in the various online platforms that are available. We have all seen the funny commercials or clips of the person who forgot to mute or turn of their camera. A lot really goes into how those meeting work, it is so much more than just logging in and turning on your webcam and audio functions. The administrator of the class or meeting needs to know how to do a variety of tasks such as sharing a screen, sending attendees into break out rooms, removing people from the meeting and muting mics when the attendees forget, and that is not even all of it. The members attending a virtual class or meeting also need to learn how to navigate the different platforms.
Specifically, in the medical field, we have seen in-office appointments decrease dramatically as people are required to stay home. Not only have medical offices had to learn quickly how to have an appointment via telemedicine, but the patients have also had to adapt to this new way of seeing their healthcare provider. I believe we will see more programs and phone apps that allow provider and patients to connect quicker and easier.
In a nutshell, I really think that we will see courses in our post-secondary schools, and maybe even junior high and high school, that teach students how to navigate the online meeting platforms as well has enhancements in telemedicine visits. I think the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new pathway in healthcare and we will need highly trained individuals to work through these systems and educate patients.
Andrew Hajde: The pandemic in 2020 has caused many employers to tighten their belts. This will mean fewer new healthcare practices, locations, and therefore, job opportunities. There will also temporarily be more competition for any management level openings due to some workers being displaced from their current jobs because of personal or work related circumstances. A similar situation happened during the 2008 financial crisis in which there was an influx of applicants for open positions, which in some cases favored those with higher levels of education, certifications, and experience.
Andrew Hajde: If I had to pick one I would probably say virtual visits and monitoring, but likely all of the below.
-A continued increase of technologies to meet face-to-face virtually via Zoom, Teams, Duo or other methods will become the norm with less travel for meetings that don't require someone being present in person.
-Telehealth is also here to stay and patients will expect care where and when they need it, this will become even more prevalent over the next few years.
-There will also be an increase of remote monitoring, wearable, and home-based technologies so patients and doctors can keep close tabs on patients, even without them being seen in person.
-I would also expect new advancements in the ability to diagnose and treat patients through the use of A.I. and other evolving technologies.
-Patient portals and quick and easy access to schedule appointments, complete paperwork, check in, pay outstanding bills, the ability to quickly view test results and medical records will be expected, in addition to increased interoperability between different health systems and providers.
IHRSA, The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
Meredith Poppler: The health and fitness industry was poised to have a record year before the crisis hit. That means that once the crisis is behind us, health and fitness clubs of all types will once again be hiring club managers, trainers, fitness floor supervisors, and more. The workforce has changed in that new hires may be required to do more fitness training online, in addition to in the club. Our job site, healthclubs.com/jobs still has plenty of open positions for club managers, sales and marketing people, coaches and personal trainers. If COVID-19 taught the world anything, it's that a healthy body is of the utmost importance, so people will be looking to their neighborhood fitness centers to get and stay healthy.
Meredith Poppler: People skills are most important. How to manage a gym or teach a class can be taught, but you must show engagement in members and a love of exercise. You might be the best at knowing how the physical body moves, but if you're not able to connect with club members or clients, that won't matter. Many clubs train fitness professionals in how they want their trainers to train and instructors to teach, but certifications are still very important. Being knowledgeable about how to connect both in person as well as online will be important as we emerge from lockdowns.
Meredith Poppler: Before the crisis, clubs were growing and expanding everywhere across the country. So, once the crisis is behind us, they will begin to grow and hire again. States where fitness programming can be expanded outdoors might need more people sooner.