Becoming a Hometown Hero Through Online Studies
A positive that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is greater societal appreciation for the workers going the extra mile to perform vital services during this unprecedented time. Has seeing them in action inspired you to consider a career move?
Here’s a look at some of the jobs that have drawn attention for their role in helping others during the pandemic and the education needed to join their ranks:
Educators have always had a reputation as unsung heroes, but their efforts to keep students learning despite a global crisis have catapulted respect to a new level. Whether finding ways to motivate junior high students online or making safety procedures as integral to an on-site elementary classroom as math and reading, teachers are living proof that learning is a never-ending process.
Plenty of schools offer online programs for aspiring teachers. Coursework centers on areas such as child development, classroom management, educational assessments, legal and ethical considerations in education, and how to teach certain age groups and/or subjects. Since COVID-19 has produced challenges regarding student teaching – a vital component to obtaining a degree and subsequent licensure – check with your institution of interest and your state board of education for the latest on completing this requirement.
Evaluating symptoms, taking vitals, assisting doctors, monitoring patient status, communicating with families, providing a smile when one is most needed . . . nurses have provided some of the most critical care for people facing COVID-19. Their countless hours spent helping those in need, oftentimes in less-than-ideal scenarios, deserves our heartiest thanks.
Online nursing programs present a variety of full-time and part-time options for pursuing a degree. Common areas of study include anatomy, chemistry, physiology, and psychology. Students develop critical thinking skills and learn how to interact with patients. Lab simulations and clinical experiences provide hands-on training. Again, institutions and states may be handling this aspect of training differently due to the pandemic, so research the issue as it pertains to you.
When more families than ever faced obstacles such as food insecurity, domestic violence, and substance abuse issues during the pandemic, social workers stepped in to direct people to appropriate community resources. Their passion for assisting others through tough times provided many with what they most needed during their darkest hours.
Social work and human service programs cover topics such as policy, advocacy, diversity, human behavior, and mental health. Students become critical thinkers capable of finding relevant solutions to real-world problems.
COVID-19 Contact Tracers
Not up to pursuing a degree program but still interested in doing something vital during the pandemic? Consider online coursework that prepares you to work as a COVID-19 contact tracer.
Public health agencies employ contact tracers as part of overall efforts to slow transmission of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Contact tracers need to quickly locate and talk with the patients, assist in arranging for patients to isolate themselves, and work with patients to identify people with whom the patients have been in close contact so the contact tracer can locate them.”
Purdue University Global, which for a time is offering a free college-level course in contact tracing to anyone with a high school diploma or GED, states that highlights of its class include learning:
- How COVID-19 is contracted and transmitted
- Strategies to reduce the spread of the disease
- COVID-19 contact tracing protocols
- Contact tracing legal requirements
- Effective risk communication
- Analytical skills for quality improvement
The past few months have been a learning experience for everyone. A big shout-out to all current community heroes, and to those thinking about pursuing one of these important careers – best wishes for success in your studies!
By Beth Hering