February 7, 2021
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.
University of Bridgeport
Steve Jackowicz Ph.D.: The Covid 19 pandemic is a worldwide tragedy. One of the most distressing aspects of the pandemic is that there are a large number of patients who suffer from ongoing symptoms even after they recover from the active phase of the infection. These "long haulers" or "Post Covid Syndrome" patients can have deficits that last for months. In fact, we do not know if there will be permanent issues that affect people or if the virus can lie dormant and reassert itself at a later time akin to the varicella virus that causes Chicken Pox and later resurfaces as Shingles. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) provides a host of treatment options (acupuncture, herbal medicines, etc.) which can palliate or cure many of the Post Covid Syndrome responses. Therefore the need for properly trained and licensed TCM providers will increase due to the Pandemic.
Steve Jackowicz Ph.D.: The TCM provider needs a good bedside manner. In the US, TCM is mostly outpatient services. As such, the TCM Doctor must develop a long term relationship with the patient, and be able to diagnose and treat the conditions that present. The doctor needs the soft skills of patient management which allows the development of trust and maintenance of the dignity and ethical considerations of healthcare.
Steve Jackowicz Ph.D.: Recent graduates of doctoral programs in Traditional Chinese Medicine have several options. It is approximately eight years of study (4 years undergraduate, 4 years graduate) to earn a clinical doctorate in TCM. Once they graduate and pass the national licensing boards, and obtain their state license, there are several career options. They can start a private practice, they can join a group practice, or they can try to find employment in hospital settings. Hospitals are increasingly hiring TCM providers as part of the integrative care teams. Once established the TCM Doctor's day resolves around direct patient care, patient management, conferences with other healthcare providers, insurance documentation and billing, as well as possible practice management work. As any other healthcare provider there is the positives of helping people recover their health, and the challenge of working in a fast paced patient care setting.
University of Florida Health
Department of Health Services Research, Management and PolicyWebsite
Keith Benson: There will be an ongoing impact on graduates. The extent of the impact is yet to be determined. Many healthcare organizations are delaying or limiting the hiring of new personnel due to financial concerns caused by the pandemic. However, as some administrators retire early or leave the healthcare management field there may be new opportunities. From what I have seen since March 2020 is that it is taking longer for some graduates to find a healthcare management job.
Keith Benson: An understanding of financial concepts and data analytics will be beneficial. A basic understanding of AI, Cybersecurity, and the IOT will also be beneficial. Another item that may be useful is having a COVID-19 vaccine.
Keith Benson: Soft skills is a misnomer from my perspective. Emotional intelligence, resilience and adaptability, remote team building, and openness to change are essential non-technical skills that will be important in one's future career.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Health Policy and AdministrationWebsite
Frank Borgers Ph.D.: While the pandemic has created short-term financial distress and driven some degree of organizational reorganization, the longer-term impact may be to increase the focus on the nation's need to create a far more robust public health infrastructure, that in many ways, begins with, and sits top primary care. The 2020 elections should accelerate this focus as the new administration and congress seek to secure and expand the provisions of the Affordable care Act.
But, healthcare is of course a huge, vibrant sector, and the underlying drivers of sector growth (in particular the large baby boomer population that will continue to drive acute, outpatient, and nursing home demand) remain, and thus the job market outlook across healthcare jobs remains incredibly robust.
When it comes to health care administration , the future looks very bright. The most recent US News and World Report's, ranks "Medical and Health Services Manager" as #4 amongst its "100 Best Jobs" across all economic sectors, and #1 amongst "Best Business Jobs"!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we can anticipate over 30% employment growth for medical and health services managers over the next decade and the creation of an estimated 133,200 new jobs.
In short, despite the pandemic, the job market for health care administration looks incredibly promising.
Frank Borgers Ph.D.: From where I sit (within a Masters level program), the most popular "gap year" route has been via administrative fellowships. These 1-2 year programs are an incredible avenue to receive senior leadership mentorship, participate in a wide range of organizational functions and activities, and are the gateway to an accelerated leadership pathway. Our program has had great success in placing students in these highly competitive positions, our alumni reports on these opportunities are extremely positive, and their post-graduation careers exemplify a fast-track leadership pathway.
Frank Borgers Ph.D.: Humility, in particular toward the clinicians and clinical teams you end up working with. Our clinicians are "at the coal-face" of health care, currently undergoing extraordinary challenges, but beyond the pandemic, the clinical teams are where the value of health care is created and where the healing of healthcare is practiced.
While, as I said, there are incredible opportunities in health care administration, the work can be hard and demanding. So, it really helps to have authentic passion for the mission of health care. Again, the closer you are to those enacting that mission, the easier it is to sustain that commitment.
Finally, while the jobs will be plentiful, health care is an industry undergoing rapid change, and this is likely to remain true and even increase in intensity in the coming decade. So, it is important to develop resilience, emotional intelligence, and a growth mentality to manage the personal and professional challenges that can accompany change. Likewise, it is critically important to stay closely attuned to industry changes - both trends and underlying drivers - and to have an ongoing professional development plan that anticipates these changes, so that you are ready to leverage opportunities when they arise.
Probably the best way to accomplish all these goals is to become an active member within the professional association that is most relevant for your health care administration sub-specialty - there are many great ones!
University of Texas at San Antonio
Department of Public HealthWebsite
Sara Oswalt Ph.D.: I envision that graduates from public health programs will have increased opportunities in the coming years. The pandemic has focused attention on prevention of health issues and implementation of public health strategies. Those within the field who have experience in individual health behavior change, contact tracing, and policy development and implementation will be strong candidates for jobs. Of course, infectious disease expertise will be valued but individuals understanding how to address chronic health conditions will also be needed.
Sara Oswalt Ph.D.: Communication - both oral and written - and contact tracing. In the virtual world, how we communicate in email and online platforms has been increasingly important. As we return to more in-person interactions, these skills -- communicating professional and clearly -- remain important to distinguish yourself from others. If it is possible to get a part-time job as contact tracer, do it. While contact tracing has gained attention because of the pandemic, it's a standard practice in public health related to other infectious diseases and STIs (think back to HIV/AIDS in 1990s). Talking with people about their health and their behaviors is a skill that many graduates don't have "real world" experience in; getting that experience can distinguish your application.
Sara Oswalt Ph.D.: Try to get as much experience as you can, even if it's volunteering. Experiencing different roles and settings provides a better understanding of what kind of organization you want to work for and what kind of job you want. This can be especially important if that first job isn't ideal. The reality is many folks take a first job just to get one, and this is okay because you need experience in the field. Continuing to volunteer allows you to learn more about yourself, your community and how you fit. It can also help make connections that allow you to learn about new opportunities when they do occur.
YMCA of Greater Fort WayneWebsite
Nicole Hansen: Some companies have thrived during the pandemic financially. These companies have been in a growth mode and will be hiring as long as the pandemic is a threat. Their future success will depend on whether or not they have plans in place to maintain their size after the threat is gone. Some companies have had to downsize and make radical changes due to forced shutdowns and in consumer behavior. As the economy rebounds, companies will right-size, hire more staff, and potentially create jobs that weren't in existence in 2020. Jobs in companies that are more immune to fluxuations in the economy are always safer and more secure. Graduates looking to become employed in 2021 may be expected to provide proof of vaccination, especially while the threat is so top of mind.
Nicole Hansen: Along with a four-year degree, new graduates will need to demonstrate good interpersonal skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to be cross-trained into more than one department. People who become "utility players" are more valuable because they can pitch in when the need arises. Graduating with a four-year degree communicates that the student is disciplined, responsible, and mature and manages time. Soft skills are also very important because no one wants to work with someone who isn't friendly or cooperative. Being reliable and dependable is also important, especially when beginning a new job. Employers want to know that you can be counted on to arrive on time and to meet deadlines without constant reminders about the expectations. A successful, newly-graduated employee will be known for stepping up and taking on new assignments with eagerness and confidence. The future is unclear, and we are all looking for the type of person who is ready for the challenges ahead.
Nicole Hansen: Experience that stands out on a resume is that which aligns to the job being applied for. For example, listing child care and tutoring experience are good if applying for a teaching position. If the job being applied for requires independence, list jobs that included that skill. If your work experience was volunteer or unpaid but relates to the job being sought, list that too. Any experience that can be tied into the job you want puts you ahead of the candidate with no experience. It's also important to list certifications or licenses that are relevant to the job, such as CPR and First Aid.