Best Healthcare Jobs After Covid: Inside Post-Pandemic Healthcare Careers (And Why You Should Care About Them)

healthcare jobs after covid
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Overview

If you’ve been watching the healthcare industry over the last couple of years, you probably have a serious case of whiplash. And if you already work in healthcare, you know that things have been, well — just plain hard. The Covid-19 pandemic has set off a sea change in what has long been considered one of America’s most stable job markets.

A Pandemic-Related Sea Change

In light of pandemic-related challenges, many people in healthcare are reevaluating their priorities and seeking new career opportunities. A safe work environment, a positive work culture, fair compensation, and supportive management are front and center as healthcare workers decide what they’re willing to compromise — and where they stand firm.

Leave policies — including mental health leave, paid sick leave, and paid parental leave — have received increased scrutiny due to the self-care necessitated by the pandemic. Telehealth has become more widespread, changing the face of healthcare delivery and offering new opportunities for remote work. Travel jobs have exploded in nursing and other healthcare fields as workers seek increased pay and new opportunities.

Working Through Covid-19

Working as a labor and delivery nurse at the height of the pandemic, I experienced firsthand the burnout, decreased morale, and staffing shortages that have plagued most hospitals. I love caring for patients and helping to welcome new life into the world. But the Covid-19 pandemic sucked much of the joy out of the delivery room — and out of my job. 

How Did We Get Here?

The burnout in healthcare workers didn’t happen overnight. We already felt tired, overworked, and undervalued. The addition of a pandemic just pushed us to our breaking point. 

I remember wearing the same single-use surgical mask for weeks at a time until the ear straps broke off. I remember the pain of having to separate babies from their Covid-positive mothers at birth. I remember constantly worrying about getting my family sick. Instead of hugging my kids after a long shift, I headed straight to the shower to “wash the Covid off.” 

I stood by as one colleague after another left my unit for higher-paying travel jobs. And I watched as travel nurses swooped in to fill the resulting vacancies and earn triple my salary for doing my exact job. 

It was a demoralizing and exhausting time. I felt disposable and used. But from great loss comes great change — right?

Where Do We Go From Here?

As the pandemic slows down, a sense of normalcy is creeping back into hospitals and other healthcare settings. There’s no question that the healthcare industry has changed.

Yet, despite the upheaval, there are still great jobs available. Believe it or not, you can find a healthy work-life balance, a flexible schedule, and ample growth opportunities in healthcare. Even better? The field is projected to grow 16 percent by 2030 and add more new jobs than any other occupational group.

So if you work — or hope to work — in healthcare, now is the time to put yourself first and be your own best advocate. Read on to learn about the best post-pandemic healthcare jobs and discover which one is right for you.

Best Healthcare Jobs: Advanced Practice Nursing

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are an important and growing part of our healthcare system. They represent a great option for Registered Nurses (RNs) looking to advance their careers. The outlook for APRN jobs is sunny: Employment is expected to grow 45 percent by 2030. Hello, job security!

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

NPs assess, diagnose, and treat patients of all ages. They provide care in various settings, from primary care and outpatient clinics to in-hospital acute care units. They also provide patient education, health management, and disease prevention. 

  • Mean Annual Salary: $118,040
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); RN licensure; NP-focused master’s or doctorate; board certification exam
  • Perks & Upsides: flexible work hours; career options in a variety of fields; job security and longevity
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: inconsistency in the scope of practice from state to state; potentially stressful work environment

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

CNMs provide primary care to women across the lifespan, focusing on women’s health, obstetrics, and gynecology. From family planning to perinatal care and childbirth, CNMs do it all — in hospitals, clinics, birth centers, and women’s homes.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $114,210
  • Required Education & Training: BSN degree; RN licensure; midwifery-focused master’s or doctorate; board certification exam
  • Perks & Upsides: a variety of practice settings and schedules; meaningful, fulfilling, and in-demand career path; potential for significant autonomy depending on location
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: autonomy varies by state; potential to work nights, holidays, or weekends and be on-call at all hours; physically demanding job

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs deliver and maintain anesthesia and manage pain. They are responsible for monitoring patients of all ages before, during, and after surgeries and other procedures. They are experts in critical care, emergencies, and airway management.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $202,470
  • Required Education & Training: BSN degree; RN licensure; 2+ years of experience in critical care or emergency room setting; master’s degree from nurse anesthesia program; board certification exam
  • Perks & Upsides: high earning potential; a variety of schedule options and practice settings; a fast-paced career where every day is different
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: expensive graduate programs; potential for high stress and burnout; increased potential for pathogen exposure due to airway management

Best Healthcare Jobs: Nursing

Nurses are widely considered to be the backbone of healthcare.

Shellshocked by pandemic-related upheaval, they are reevaluating their priorities and reinventing themselves. After all, not all nursing jobs are ideal for all people. But there are still good jobs to be had — and the nursing field truly has something to offer everyone. The pandemic has reminded us just how much we need nurses and has cemented the profession’s place among in-demand healthcare careers.

nurse

Registered Nurse (RN)

Nurses provide and coordinate care and education for people of all ages in various practice settings. Along with an interdisciplinary team, nurses act as patient advocates and use critical thinking to improve care.

  • Required Education & Training: associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing; national licensure exam; optional specialty board certifications
  • Perks & Upsides: a variety of career options; flexible schedule; job security; many opportunities for advancement 
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: an irregular schedule that can require working weekends, holidays, and nights; risk of exposure to pathogens and hazardous substances; frequent lack of adequate staffing and support; physically demanding; high-stress environment

Post-Pandemic Nursing

Like many other professions, nursing has fallen victim to the “Great Resignation” of the pandemic era. Nurses are no longer willing to tolerate unsafe working conditions and bedside burnout. Many are weighing career options and looking for jobs beyond the bedside. As a result, there are unprecedented staffing issues in many healthcare settings.

Nursing Jobs To Watch

Despite current staffing issues, registered nursing is among the top fields for projected growth over the next decade. Nursing jobs are plentiful, with 11 million new nurses needed to fend off shortages. The most appealing post-pandemic job options offer regular hours, low stress, or remote work.

Telephone Triage and Telehealth

Telehealth nurses assess patients remotely via phone or video chat and make recommendations about the necessary level of care for each patient. Upsides include a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home. Downsides include the sedentary nature of the job and the lack of hands-on nursing skills. 

healthcare jobs after covid telephone triage
Utilization Review

Utilization review nurses review medical cases to ensure patients receive the care best suited to them. These nurses work to balance patient needs with hospital policies and the need to keep costs low. Remote work is often possible due to the behind-the-scenes nature of the job. Additionally, the heavy focus on documentation should be appealing to tech-savvy nurses.

Radiation Oncology

A nursing job in a radiation oncology clinic is one of nursing’s best-kept secrets. Clinic positions offer less stress and a more regular schedule than inpatient nursing. Nurses usually work 8- or 10-hour weekday shifts — no nights, weekends, or holidays! Key responsibilities include the care coordination and education of patients receiving radiation treatment.

Best Healthcare Jobs: Medicine

Medical careers are notorious for long hours and high stress levels. These drawbacks are often considered a necessary trade-off for the highest-paying healthcare jobs. But what if this is all a lie? You can’t escape the long and arduous training required to become a medical doctor — that much is true.

But some medical specialties offer less stress and a better work-life balance in our post-pandemic employment world.

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental health. They focus on preventing, diagnosing, managing, and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Given the rise in mental health issues during the pandemic, this field is projected to grow 13 percent over the next decade — faster than other specialties.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $249,760
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree with pre-med focus; MD or DO degree; 4-year residency program; board certification exam; optional 1- to 2-year specialty fellowship
  • Perks & Upsides: a variety of work settings and patient populations; possibility for remote work via telemedicine; opportunities for specialization and advancement; low pathogen exposure risk
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: extensive and costly educational requirements; potential for emotional burnout; increased physical risk due to the nature of the job

Radiologist

Radiologists use medical imaging to diagnose and treat various diseases and injuries.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $301,720
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree with pre-med focus; MD or DO degree; 5-year residency program; board certification exam; optional 1- to 2-year specialty fellowship
  • Perks & Upsides: very flexible schedule with remote work options; opportunities for research and innovation; high earning power; a variety of career paths; comparatively low-stress
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: extensive and costly educational requirements; work is often behind-the-scenes and can be repetitive; less patient interaction than in other fields

Dermatologist

Dermatologists diagnose, manage, and treat conditions of the skin, nails, and hair. 

  • Mean Annual Salary: $302,740
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree with pre-med focus; MD or DO degree; 4-year residency program; board certification exam; optional 1- to 2-year specialty fellowship
  • Perks & Upsides: regular schedule; high earning potential; relatively low-stress work environment; diverse patient population
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: extensive and costly educational requirements; work can be repetitive

Best Healthcare Jobs: Other Categories

Healthcare careers have long been viewed as recession-proof, disaster-proof — and now — pandemic-proof.

This all translates to job security and stability. Healthcare’s most in-demand jobs come in various shapes and sizes. However, they all share the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives. Read on for even more high-demand and fast-growing jobs in post-pandemic healthcare.

healthcare

Physician Assistant (PA)  

PAs work on the front lines of healthcare to examine, diagnose, and treat patients. They function as part of a multidisciplinary team and work under the supervision of a medical doctor. This field is expected to grow 31 percent by 2030, offering excellent options for employment and advancement.  

  • Mean Annual Salary: $119,460
  • Required Education & Training: science-focused bachelor’s degree; patient care experience; master’s degree from PA program; board certification exam
  • Perks & Upsides: option to work in a variety of specialties and settings; operate much like a physician with less time in school; good earning potential
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: work hours can be irregular; responsible for much of the same work as a physician, but for less pay; true autonomy isn’t possible due to the nature of the job

Dentist

Dentists work to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental issues. They help their patients maintain oral hygiene and improve dental health.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $167,160
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree; DDS or DMD degree from dental school program; 2- to 4-year dental residency; board certification exam; state or regional clinical exam
  • Perks & Upsides: high earning power; potential for self-employment; good work-life balance with the potential to set your own hours
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: the high cost of dental school; high overhead costs to open practice; many people dread dental visits

Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors assess patients for inherited conditions and educate them about genetic risks. Employment in this young and dynamic field is expected to grow 26 percent by 2030.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $86,640
  • Required Education & Training: science-focused bachelor’s degree; master’s degree in genetics or genetic counseling; board certification exam
  • Perks & Upsides: a variety of career options and niches; low-risk work environment; regular hours with scheduling flexibility; the opportunity to work remotely via telehealth
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: potential for burnout due to the emotional stress of sharing difficult news; relatively sedentary position

Optometrist

Optometrists examine, diagnose, and treat visual problems and other eye issues.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $125,440
  • Required Education & Training: science-focused bachelor’s degree; 4-year graduate program in optometry (O.D., or Doctor of Optometry); board certification exam; other requirements for licensure vary by state 
  • Perks & Upsides: predictable schedule with good work-life balance; low-risk and low-stress work environment
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: the high cost of optometry school; work can feel repetitive

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

A sonographer uses sound waves to obtain and analyze internal images of the body. This imaging helps doctors diagnose and treat conditions ranging from pregnancy to cancer.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $80,680
  • Required Education & Training: completion of an accredited sonography program (2-4 years); certification requirements vary by employer; licensing requirements vary by state
  • Perks & Upsides: potential for flexible and accommodating schedule; ability to specialize in various areas; opportunity for a quick start in a career
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: requires managing difficult patients and emotional medical situations; demanding certification process

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

SLPs evaluate, prevent, diagnose, and treat communication and swallowing disorders in patients of all ages in various settings. This field is projected to grow 29 percent by 2030 and offers ripe career options.

pandemic jobs
  • Mean Annual Salary: $85,820
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders (CSD); graduate degree in SLP/CSD; post-graduate clinical fellowship; national board certification exam; state SLP licensure; optional additional professional certification 
  • Perks & Upsides: flexible schedule; diverse patient population; continued job growth and stability
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: the high cost of the graduate degree; little opportunity for pay increases over time

Chiropractor

Chiropractors provide holistic care of the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems. They use alternative treatments to manage pain and improve function.
  • Mean Annual Salary: $81,240
  • Required Education & Training: bachelor’s degree; graduate degree from a doctor of chiropractic program; clinical internship; series of board certification exams; state licensure (requirements vary)
  • Perks & Upsides: flexible schedule; high autonomy and potential for self-employment; direct care with potential for long-term client relationships; shorter training period than many other healthcare jobs
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: physically demanding due to the hands-on nature of the job; high cost of required education  

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists deliver radiation treatment to patients with cancer and other conditions.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $94,000
  • Required Education & Training: associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy; credentialing exam; possible state licensure (requirements vary)
  • Perks & Upsides: regular schedule; a variety of work settings; opportunity for specialization and professional growth 
  • Reality Checks & Downsides: physically demanding; increased risk of exposure to low levels of radiation

The Future of Healthcare Jobs

Without question, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed what it’s like to work in healthcare. It has also reinforced the importance of healthcare jobs, fueled growth, and helped workers reevaluate their priorities. Are you looking for a dynamic and rewarding career that allows you to help people and engage in lifelong learning? If so, there is a healthcare job out there for you.

Madeline Kelso
Madeline Kelso
Madeline Kelso is a freelance writer and registered nurse based in Baltimore, MD. With more than ten years of nursing experience in pediatric oncology, radiation oncology, and perinatal care, Madeline uses her expertise as a springboard to dive into health care’s hot topics. In her spare time, she enjoys planning epic camping adventures, experimenting with vegan baking, and wrangling her two young children.

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