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Healthcare professionals: Post-pandemic challenges and solutions

In the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of healthcare professionals around the world. They and their families took unprecedented levels of risks to reduce the suffering and save lives. The world would not have imagined sailing through the prevailing situation safely without the support of the healthcare professionals. 

The healthcare workers have been praised and rewarded for all their sacrifices and hard work but they have endured a lot in the last few months while taking care of the sick and exposing themselves to risk at the same time. The risk of death due to corona is reportedly 17 times higher in doctors as compared to a regular person. Apart from this, they are also grappling with situations like job cuts, pay cuts and furloughs. Hospitals and healthcare organisations resorted to job cuts and pay cuts as they struggled to cover increased Covid-19 running costs, even as the numbers of COVID-19 patients continued to rise in the country. Last year, the Supreme Court of India had intervened after the central government had announced some pay cuts. The apex court had said, “You do not want dissatisfied soldiers in the war against the pandemic. You need to do more for them… Concerns of citizens will be addressed if their [doctors and medical workers] are addressed.” A few months ago, nearly 900 doctors appointed to Covid first-line treatment centres (FLTCs) across Kerala tendered their resignations over deductions in their salary. There are multiple factors that have caused concerns for the healthcare workers. Some of them are as follows- 

Awareness about existing laws and changing medical protocols

Health is a subject that lies in the concurrent list (where both Centre and states can enact laws) in the country. There are laws on certain areas by the Centre as well as the states. Practitioners should understand them well in order to stay relevant. For example, some of the states in India stipulate that only doctors registered with the state’s medical council can practice there even if the professional is registered in the Indian Medical Register (IMR). So, if a doctor from a state is providing medical care in another state then he/she is violating the state laws. The erstwhile MCI had also clarified that “persons possessing recognized medical qualification are required to be registered with the respective state medical councils within the jurisdiction of which they wish to practice medicine”. 

Understanding career options and available opportunities

It is important for healthcare professionals to understand that there are multiple career options available and various platforms are there in the market with the help of which they can explore the options. Apart from the usual career paths, there are several alternative options available for practitioners to explore. Some of them are as follows- 

  • Hospital administration
  • Medical teacher/professor
  • Public health worker
  • Medical Journalism/writing
  • Clinical forensic medical examiner
  • Medico-legal advisor
  • Pharmaceutical researcher
  • Academic medicine
  • Sports medicine
  • Health informatics and analytics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Telemedicine

While looking out for opportunities, healthcare professionals should devise the right strategies and stick to them. They have to understand what it is that they want to achieve and they also have to figure out the path which will ultimately lead them to the destination. Several steps like profile building, showcasing their skills, upskilling and selecting the right channels, are vital to building their career. 

Upskilling

This is an important aspect of career growth in a time when technology is evolving by leaves and bounds. Acquiring new skills and competencies is vital in order to stay relevant. In the pandemic era, there are several online platforms that have professionals conducting upskilling courses and helping them evolve. The common upskilling approaches that the platforms follow are as follows-

  • Using practical projects to develop skills
  • Online modules, distance learning and printed resources
  • Professional development workshops
  • Simulations and role-play
  • Collaboratives and on-the-job training

Profile building and showcasing skills

The art of showcasing the skills is as important as acquiring and practising those skills. Profile building gives the professionals an opportunity to build their own brand and to convince that he/she is the one. A well-written profile does half of the work so it is very much important to have a structured and concise resume to make the first impression work for professionals. To create one’s own brand it is essential to showcase knowledge, skills, experience, expertise, and accomplishments while building a resume that can portray one as a good professional or a budding professional who is ready to face this challenging world. Resume builders, which are mostly tested by employers, have been of great help in this context. Resume builders are powerful online tools that include easy step-by-step guides to help in building a professional resume.

Looking for vacancies through appropriate channels

Getting a work opportunity is not difficult but getting the right opportunity is definitely a herculean task. The professionals can get the right opportunity when they search for them through the right channels. Searching for opportunities can be stressful if appropriate channels are not followed. There are some online networking and job search platforms for medical professionals like doctors and nurses which help them explore the available opportunities and act as a bridge between them and hospitals or telemedicine platforms. For example, Bengaluru-based MedPiper Technologies, Inc matches verified Doctors and HCPs with hospitals and telemedicine platforms. The platform helps pre-verified and peer-authenticated professionals and practitioners track job alerts, industry updates, research trends among others. The platform uses blockchain technology to enable the verification of profile credentials by peers, educators and employers, and match those verified profiles to job requirements.

Conclusion

One of the biggest impacts of the COVID-19 was on the employment scene across the world. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, almost 6 million white-collar workers, including engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants and analysts, lost their jobs between May and August last year. But at the same time, the pandemic situation has given birth to new avenues where healthcare professionals can start fresh by keeping abreast with the latest technologies and upskilling themselves to stay relevant. Some of the startups have redefined the way we look at the healthcare industry and opportunities in the sector. They have innovated to improve the quality of their services and lower their prices with the focus on increasing patient demands coupled with pressure on the costs for delivering care. Such healthcare-centric startups can prove to be beneficial for professionals.

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