Every job has its unique characteristics unknown to those who do not have any experience with it. This is certainly true of healthcare employment. Those of us who don’t work in the healthcare sector find it easy to limit our understanding to what amounts to paying our primary care physicians to write prescriptions and remind us to exercise and eat well. Needless to say there is a lot more to it than that.
Much of what we don’t know about healthcare employment has been widely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. According to Health Jobs Nationwide, large swathes of the healthcare sector are being negatively impacted to the same degree as other industries. It is not a pretty picture.
More Than Doctors and Nurses
Healthcare employment is most visible within the scope of doctors and nurses. Some of us have even experience with physical therapists, lab technicians, anesthesiologists, and so forth. But how many of us think of the allied healthcare workers and support staff whose presence is only felt directly by coworkers?
There is an entire army of healthcare workers no one ever sees. Healthcare employment includes jobs like billing and coding. It includes healthcare IT and helps desk. Healthcare employment gives jobs to cafeteria workers, orderlies, maintenance staff, laundry workers, etc.
Don’t Catch the Virus
All of these workers are just as concerned about catching coronavirus. Those still going to work are having to be very careful about getting too close to other people. They are having to remember to wash their hands multiple times per day. That says nothing about trying to remember not to touch one’s face.
As for doctors and nurses, they are on the front lines treating patients who could easily expose them to the virus. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that most of them worry about taking coronavirus home at the end of the day. They do not want to get sick themselves; they certainly don’t want to infect their families.
Healthcare jobs are stressful even under ideal conditions. Workers of all stripes just cannot escape the pressure of a system that seems more in demand with every passing quarter. Throw in something like COVID-19 and it is easy to see why stress levels get so high. Making sure you do not catch the virus just makes everything more difficult.
Working for All of Us
The one thing we should make a point of remembering is that healthcare workers are not just working for themselves and their families. They are working for all of us. While they may be earning a paycheck and paying their bills, they are also providing valuable services with the rest of us could not do without.
Along those same lines, there isn’t a nonessential healthcare job out there. From clinicians to technicians and support staff, every healthcare worker is part of a large team that seeks to serve patients around the clock. Take away just one team member and the absence is noted.
Healthcare workers deserve the utmost respect during times like these. If you know people who work in healthcare – any aspect of healthcare, by the way – take the time to let them know how much you appreciate what they do. Do not give them a hard time for doing things in ways that don’t make sense to you. They are the professionals. Cut them some slack.
Healthcare employment will never be the same now that COVID-19 is reality. What it looks like five years from now is anyone’s guess. For now, though, our healthcare workers deserve a lot more than a pat on the back.