Q: Given the international spotlight on physicians and nurses who are holding the frontline on COVID-19, should we be aggressively investing in new health programs?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not as straightforward as it may seem. According to Eduventures Prospective Student Research™ and Adult Learner Research™, healthcare related programs are among the most popular for traditional and adult learners alike. Labor demand for most health professions has historically been strong as well.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly exacerbated nursing and physician shortages, job security in these areas is not as rosy as it might seem. The pandemic-related demand is limited to acute and critical care while other specialties are on a temporary hiatus. This means reliable revenue streams for healthcare systems have significantly decreased, resulting in furloughs, layoffs, and salary cuts for many healthcare practitioners.
We can also see the future student demand side take two possible directions. The first scenario that may play out is that idealistic students rush toward healthcare programs to join the ranks of heroized professionals in these fields. This would be similar to the rush into criminal justice and forensics following 9/11.
On the other hand, prospective students are also seeing daily images of overwhelmed healthcare workers with insufficient personal protection equipment (PPE), which could negatively impact student interest for a while. While we believe healthcare program demand will remain high in the future, we advise proceeding with caution into strong investments in these areas if institutions had not already planned to do so pre-pandemic.
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