How COVID-19 Will Change the Way We View Healthcare Workers

Arta Mekuli
Published on Jul 12, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

In today's guest post on the Osmosis blog, the team at the University of the Potomac speculates on how we might look at health professionals once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended (whenever that may be). 

For the past several months, the world has been undergoing a drastic change that has fundamentally shifted how we  go about our daily lives . The COVID-19 pandemic caught us somewhat by surprise, and the emotional toll has been devastating.

Some people have lost loved ones; others were left in the company of solitude, unable to go outside. However, beyond all the grim news and heartbreaking stories, there may be some silver linings for our healthcare system, and for the people who keep it running.  

Let’s look at what possible changes might arise as the world inches back towards normality.

More respect for healthcare workers

Many of us have witnessed “balcony clapping” as a sign of appreciation and respect towards the hard work of healthcare workers during the pandemic. For many healthcare workers, it has been a great comfort, and it helps in some small way.

Many people found a new and more profound recognition for healthcare workers, realizing that if it weren’t for them, many of us would be completely helpless—or worse.

Grassroots movements like this remind the public that healthcare workers were the people that put everyone else’s lives and safety before their own. Many of them had to work endless overtime shifts without adequate quantities of personal protective equipment, all while helplessly watching as many of their patients succumbed to the virus. 

We think of healthcare workers as our heroes, but we should also treat them as such. We can do this by making sure that during the pandemic, and when it ends, their financial and psychological needs are seen to properly. 

Burnout in medical workers was a problem even before this crisis, and now it has doubled in severity. We must be careful about how we handle the aftermath. Let’s not forget that, without these selfless workers sacrificing their personal needs for the greater good, we would be in much more dire straits. We truly owe our lives to them.

Osmosis illustration of a doctor being celebrated by his community.

An improved hospital system

Faced with a pandemic of such magnitude, most hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. This situation has highlighted how unprepared we were for such a health crisis and underscored the need for change.

Many states are considering building emergency units for intensive care under similar conditions. Beyond these plans, hospitals need many upgrades to help both personnel and patients feel safe and ensure they’re more able to cope better with these kinds of situations. 

More faith in the expertise of medical professionals

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much we rely on experts to help us make the best decisions for our people, and how dire the consequences can be for ignoring their advice. Although we have always valued them to an extent, the new situation really puts to light how vital expert leadership is when it comes to guiding us on the road to safety.

As the situation in the US worsens, it’s clear that people are more eager to hear from medical professionals when it comes to news about the virus, rather than politicians. 

Osmosis illustration of a doctor looking toward a better future.

Focus on healthcare education

The US has been facing a shortage of health professionals for a long time, especially with our aging population, but the pandemic means we can no longer ignore the facts. From healthcare administrators, to healthcare management, nurses, nursing assistants,  and specialized doctors, there simply isn’t enough trained staff. 

Learn more about how you can get involved in a health administration career in this guide from the University of the Potomac.

We should remain hopeful that these facts will make people take action and raise the line to improve the capacity of our healthcare system by encouraging students to enroll in health professional programs, improving working conditions for current clinicians, and making the process of managing COVID-19 easier and less stressful for them by increasing access to vital resources.

Other changes in the world

The COVID-19 crisis will not only shape the way we think about the healthcare system, but how we conduct ourselves in many other aspects of our lives. Isolation won’t last forever, but we are living through a collective traumatic event, and it remains to be seen how different people deal with the situation as we get “back to normal”—whatever that new normal may look like.

A more virtual lifestyle

The Internet already played a central role in our lives before the pandemic, but we’re more reliant on it now than we ever have been, whether we’re using it for entertainment, learning, work, or to reach out to our loved ones. It has become evident that many tasks don’t require us to meet in person, and we can easily get them done online. Similarly, we have witnessed how virtual spaces can bring us all together in times of crisis. 

Many universities are moving their programs online, with online learning platforms taking center stage. With online learning having had such a boost in a short time, it will be interesting to see the education space take on new forms.

Osmosis illustration of friends meeting up on Zoom.

More compassion

In spite of everything, COVID-19 has brought many people together. Whether people accept it or not, everyone is vulnerable to this virus, and we can’t know for sure who can or will get it. Many people have started to take care of each other in different ways, whether that’s by singing from the balconies, reaching out to strangers online, keeping people entertained by spearheading online challenges from home, or offering advice on how to take care and stay safe. 

While it’s easy to focus on the negative, in many ways, this pandemic has shown just how humane we can be.

A more cautious society

As we have seen, it takes a lot of effort to stay safe during a pandemic. The use of items like hand sanitizer and masks have skyrocketed, which can be seen as a good thing. As time goes on and things begin to ease off, some of these learned behaviors will remain: there will definitely be less unnecessary contact than before—it will be a while before hugs and handshakes are acceptable—as well as increased caution about where we eat, what we touch, and how we go about our lives. 

Amidst all these changes, we hope that people will find a new respect for and appreciation of healthcare workers. As people grow more empathetic to the challenges that come with a career in health and medicine, it’s likely we’ll see more investments in healthcare education and hospitals, and an increased faith in medical experts. However, these changes depend on people taking action—so let’s work together to raise the line and improve things for the heroes keeping us safe in our day to day lives.

About Arta
Arta Mekuli is a writing enthusiast and is eager to write about topics that tackle educational and life issues. As a former student herself, she spends most of her time writing about student experiences and personal development. She hopes that through her writing, she’ll be able to help students with their studies and other matters on their minds. Currently, she’s writing for the blog of the University of the Potomac.

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