Telehealth has seen consistent growth in popularity over the last few years. But, the biggest “boom” came during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, it was out of necessity as medical professionals worked to keep patients safe and protected. However, even as we enter a post-pandemic world, telehealth trends continue to go up.
Telehealth benefits both patients and physicians. It offers flexibility, greater inclusivity, and can encourage more people to practice preventative healthcare when they know they can chat with their doctor from the comfort of home.
If you’re considering a career in telehealth, now is a great time to get on board. However, it’s important to know what to expect, and how you can prepare yourself before you decide if it’s the right career move for you.
Consider What You Want
A career in telehealth can be rewarding. Depending on your position, you might interact directly with patients, offering medical advice and preventative care options that can improve their well-being or help them manage the symptoms of an illness. If you have a passion for helping people and want to do something truly meaningful, it’s a fantastic way to find fulfillment.
However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. It’s not always the same having to help someone virtually, rather than face-to-face. You’ll also have to deal with people from all walks of life, and not every patient will be pleasant. Some will have conditions that are difficult to handle. Others might be frustrated by the very technology they’re using to talk to you. So, while a career in telehealth can be convenient, really consider what you want before you take the plunge. Think about things like:
- Your comfort level in working with people virtually
- How much time you can devote to this career
- How well you handle stressful situations
Once you’ve decided that you think this career choice would be a good fit for you, it’s time to determine what you need to actually make it happen. If you’re currently in the healthcare field, it might be easy to transfer your education
Do You Meet the Qualifications?
Maybe you’re totally new to the telehealth field but you have the desire to help people. You don’t need to be a doctor or specialist to work in telehealth. However, depending on your position, you might need to meet certain qualifications. That includes certifications and licenses, in some cases.
For example, if you’re a nurse, you’ll have to receive appropriate licensing through the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Because telehealth services are in such high demand, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your licensure quickly so you can start helping people as soon as possible.
If you’re a doctor, or specialist, or work for a clinic that provides telehealth services, make sure your certifications are up-to-date, and familiarize yourself with the latest in telemedicine software. There are multiple platforms and options available, so educating yourself on how to utilize technology safely and effectively is essential for any type of telehealth career.
Some practices and clinics might eventually switch to mostly telehealth services, so you might be able to get your foot in the door as an administrator and help people make virtual appointments or assist with billing. Having experience as an administrator can make that transition easier for you. You’ll also need to brush up on skills like:
- Time management
If you truly want to determine what’s needed to start your career with the right qualifications, check the requirements in your state. They vary by location, and you could be closer to getting started than you might think!
The Ins and Outs of a Virtual Career
One of the most important things to consider if you want to switch to a telehealth career is whether virtual/remote work is a good fit for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to think about. While virtual work can offer more flexibility, it can also take a toll on your mental health if you’re not getting the social interaction you need.
Humans are social creatures. We need face-to-face interaction. If your work solely relies on a virtual environment, you might struggle with isolation and loneliness. You might even feel uninspired, unmotivated, and burnt out.
While mental health stigmas in the healthcare field are starting to crumble, be sure you’re comfortable prioritizing your own mental well-being, and even talking to a professional if you’re worried that you might struggle with this type of career. Practice self-care each day by exercising, eating healthy meals, and getting as much in-person interaction with people as possible.
Telehealth is the future. While it can’t completely replace all types of medical care, it will certainly change the face of medicine and how people approach preventative care for years to come. If you’re interested in making a career change to enjoy the benefits of telemedicine, use the information here to consider whether it’s the right move, and whether you’ll find happiness and fulfillment. If so, don’t hesitate to start moving forward with your new career right away. The need for workers is extremely high, and you could end up landing the job of your dreams quickly.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.