Rapidly Upskill Displaced & Incumbent Workers to Fill Vital Healthcare Roles

Posted by Des Sinkevich on August 13, 2020

The healthcare industry has been one of the hardest hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While thought to be recession proof, 1.4 million healthcare jobs were lost in April, following up the 43,000 that were originally displaced in March. But, as states slowly reopen and new safety protocols are put into place, healthcare jobs are making a revival - but not in the ways they existed before. Physicians and nurses aren’t the most in-demand roles that need to be filled; rather support positions are where the opportunities lie for workers and employers alike.

Woman working on laptop with stethoscope.

The shift in urgently needed healthcare roles

During the onset of the pandemic, roles deemed “non-essential” were terminated or furloughed - both for the protection of staff and patients, as well as an attempt to save money in a time when finances were stretched tighter than ever. But as May came and went, the healthcare sector added 312,000 jobs, signaling a slow, but growing, recovery in the industry. As of the July 2020 jobs report, 27,000 hospital positions were added and employment in healthcare and social assistance increased by 191,400 jobs.

While the increase is in no way dramatic - considering the number of jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic, we’re still falling short of a complete recovery - it has created a demand for healthcare support roles that weren’t necessarily a priority pre-pandemic. It’s also opened an avenue for the rise of “new” healthcare roles or other previously overlooked jobs in the industry. For staffing agencies and organizations looking to get ahead of the growth in these positions, as well as healthcare providers who want to ensure they have the staff they need, understanding the shift in what roles are most urgently needed is the challenge at hand.

The new in-demand healthcare jobs

In the past, and even at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, doctors, surgeons, and registered nurses were desperately needed to address the influx of patients into hospitals and clinics. However, as we’ve now settled into what’s being widely called the “new normal,” we’re seeing a disparity between the roles that need to be filled and those that are trained to do them. Shifting focus from traditionally recognized frontline roles to those support positions that are necessary for a hospital or clinic to function, we can see growing worker shortages in crucial roles in administration, medical assisting, and laboratory work. This deficit between open support roles and eligible applicants could potentially create a devastating skills gap that would impact not only workers and employers, but patients as well.

In order to bridge the gap before it becomes a larger issue, focusing on what roles and what skills are needed to fill them is what must be done right now. Jobs in dentist offices, hospital and administrative support positions, and home health care roles are projected to grow throughout the pandemic - and after. New or newly in-demand healthcare roles include

  • Contact tracers.
  • Temperature screeners.
  • Home health/personal care aides.
  • Medical billing and coding professionals.
  • Medical assistants.
  • Pharmacy technicians.
  • Dental Assistants.
  • Healthcare administrators.
  • Laboratory technicians.

But as you’re preparing to hire for these much-needed positions, you may find that many applicants don’t possess the experience or skills to be immediately effective in the roles you’re searching for. The solution? Upskilling and reskilling out of work or furloughed employees.

Upskill workers quickly to grow your talent pool

While training and education are obviously the solution to shoring up your employment numbers and sourcing or connecting top talent to open roles, there may be worry about filling jobs now when standard training programs can take at least a year to complete and often even longer. The wait, it seems, will only expand the skills gap and put stress on already tight staffing and financial numbers. That’s where digital training plays a part.

Through online training with a leading education partner like Penn Foster, workers can build the vital skills needed to be fully functioning members of the team in as little as three to six months. Penn Foster’s Healthcare Careers Institute, learners can train quickly for clinical, pharmacy, and administration roles. With a range of career diplomas, certificate courses, and pathway programs, healthcare providers, staffing agencies, and other organizations can rapidly prepare workers to take on new or newly in-demand jobs - ensuring providers meet staffing needs while improving quality of patient care.

To start preparing displaced and incumbent workers to be successful team members, contact a Penn Foster training expert today.


Weixel, Nathaniel. 2020. “Health Care Industry Decimated by Coronavirus, Loses 1.4 Million Jobs.” TheHill. May 8, 2020.

National Jobs Report | Adecco Staffing, USA.” n.d. Adecco Staffing, USA Blog. Accessed August 11, 2020.

Writers, Staff. 2020. “Healthcare Jobs in High Demand After COVID-19 | BestColleges.” BestColleges.Com. May 12, 2020.