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The civilization is under lockdown now. Empty streets. Self-quarantine. Wash your hands. Work from home. Clapping to appreciate and cheer up the health workers. Thousands are getting affected. Thousands of people are dying every day from COVID-19. Coffins are lined up. Alone. Not enough people to do the burials.

Surreal? Unbelievable? Feel like we are actors in a movie? Already watched the movie Contagion? Scared? Worried?
But this will surely pass. We are fighting. Each one of us. And there are hundreds of thousands of different professionals, right from a chest specialist doctor, a nurse, and a paramedic to a social worker, civil service administrator, and a police officer – all are fighting.

Are you inspired by the stories of all these professionals who are fighting at the frontline?

Their eyes often welling up, not sleeping well every night or not getting the time to sleep, suppressing hunger, taking an enormous risk on their own lives – but there will be no giving up.

Who are these people at the frontline? Who are the people who are planning it all? Are you inspired to prepare yourself over the next few years and be one like them at the forefront should any pandemic like this COVID-19 happen?

Come take a look at who they are and what they do actually when a pandemic breaks out and the wrath of nature comes upon us.

First, an overlook of the broad areas of work that are required to prepare for and then face the challenges arising out of a global pandemic like COVID-19.

A] Research and Development – Scientific research and medical research

Many different fields or areas of work are needed to prepare for and fight a pandemic. Scientific and medical research is needed to find out the biology of a virus that causes a pandemic, understand the genetic structure, understand how it affects human cells, discovering the medicine or vaccine which may cure the diseases, and so on. Scientific research and medical research are carried both as a preparation for the future or doing it in a rapid scale in response to a pandemic outbreak such as COVID-19.

B] Mass fatality planning – Medical and welfare assistance; planning, management, and communication

How to face the crisis arising out of a pandemic outbreak? Here comes mass fatality planning – planning and establishing medical facilities, welfare facilities, etc.; planning and management of the various actions that must be taken at the Government level; communication with the public at large to inform and assure so that they don’t panic and follow all necessary precautions.

Figure 1: An overall view of the broad areas of work required to fight a pandemic

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Now, let us look deeper and understand the different careers that fall within the purview of the broad areas of work

A] Research and Development – Scientific research and medical research

Professionals involved in this include biological scientists such as the microbiologists, virologists, epidemiologists, molecular biologists and geneticists; medical scientists such as the immunologists, and pharmacologists; drug discovery and development scientists such as pharmaceutical scientists, and biochemists; and clinical researchers.

Figure 2: An overall view of the broad areas of work in scientific and medical research

CAREERS where you can FIGHT a pandemic like CORONA in the future? 1

A few of the key careers in this area:

  • Immunologist:  Immunologist study and research on the immune systems of various organisms including animals and humans. They find out how immune systems work and how immune systems fight diseases.
  • Virologist:  Virologists deal with the classification & evolution of viruses or virus-like agents, their ways to infect & exploit host cells for multiplication (produce more of their kind inside a host for e.g. a human), their interaction with human physiology & immunity, the diseases they can cause, the techniques to isolate & culture them in a laboratory, and their extended use in medical research & therapy.  
  • Microbiologist:  Microbiologist research and study about microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, fungus, etc. They study how microorganisms evolve and grow, how their genetic mechanism changes, how do they affect plants and animals.
  • Epidemiologist:  Epidemiologists study and research about the causes of diseases and various health-related disorders over a geographic region or among various communities. They find out ways to prevent diseases.
  • Molecular Biologist:  Molecular biologists study the various biological and biochemical processes that take place inside a living cell.
  • Geneticist: Geneticists study the genes of humans, animals, and microorganisms. They study about the structure of the genes and genome sequences; understand how various biochemical processes take place inside the mitochondria of a human cell and how genes mutate.
  • Medical Scientist:  Medical Scientist research and study in various areas of medical science to understand human diseases, their causes, and therapies. Medical Scientists discover various medical treatment methods and treatments, various substances which may cure and prevent diseases, innovate and find out better ways to treat human diseases, and so on.
  • Pharmaceutical Scientist:  Pharmaceutical Scientists research and study to discover medicines and various ways to deliver drugs to human bodies (such as tablets, capsules, syrups, injections, etc.).
  • Clinical Researcher:  Clinical Researchers help in finding out the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of a newly discovered medicine or treatment method.

B] Mass fatality planning – Medical and welfare assistance; planning, management, and communication

(i) Medical and welfare assistance: Professionals involved in this include the doctors and specialist physicians; various allied healthcare professionals such as nurses, medical laboratory technologists, and medical imaging technologists; various paramedics who assist the doctors, nurses, and other medical technologists; hospital and health administrators; and medical social workers.

Figure 3: An overall view of the broad areas of work in medical and welfare assistance

CAREERS where you can FIGHT a pandemic like CORONA in the future? 2

A few of the key careers in this area:

Pulmonologist:  Pulmonologists or Pneumologists are experts in the medical specialty which deals with diseases of the respiratory tract, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections. They are also called Respirologists in different parts of the world. This field is also known as chest medicine and respiratory medicine. They are typically post-graduate doctors. Some are even scientists with PhDs.

General Physicians or doctors and Specialist Physicians: General Physicians provide the first level of medical care to those suffering from diseases like COVID-19 and Specialist Physicians or doctors provide specialty healthcare when a patient’s conditions require hospitalization. You can read about various career pathways to become a Doctor or a Specialist Physician

  • General Physician
  • General Surgeon
  • Pathologist
  • Public Health Consultant

Allied Healthcare Professionals: professionals in this area help Doctors and Specialist Physicians to provide medical care or clinical care to people who are suffering from a disease and require diagnosis and treatment, often at hospitals. Nurses, Medical Laboratory Technologists, Emergency and Critical Care Technologists, Respiratory Therapists, etc.

  • Nurse
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Emergency & Critical Carer Technologist
  • Respiratory Therapist

Paramedics: Paramedics assist allied healthcare professionals to provide the first level of care and assistance to patients. They are generally referred to as Paramedics or Medical Technicians. You can read about a few careers here:

  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • General Nurse
  • Patient Care Assistant
  • Hospital/ Healthcare Administrators: They manage various healthcare service centers right from primary health centers, polyclinics, and nursing homes to large scale single-specialty or multi-specialty hospitals.
  • Medical Social Workers: They help families and communities to access proper medical care when they need and especially during epidemics and pandemics like COVID-19.
  • ASHAs: Accredited Social Health Activists are trained female community health workers selected from a particular community itself. They work as an interface between the community and the public health system. At present, there are over 9 Lakh ASHAs.

(ii) Planning, Management, and Communication: Many professionals are involved in planning and management of an epidemic and a pandemic like COVID-19 – right from an IAS Officer, Public Policy Expert, Public Health Administrator, Police Officer, Public Communication Expert, and even a Journalist.

IAS Officers lead the planning and management actions during the outbreak of a pandemic. They work under political leadership of a country or a state but they are the drivers to implement large scale public healthcare management actions. Journalists play a very important role in communicating a lot of essential information and guidelines for the common public.

Read about a few career pathways here:

  • IAS Officer
  • Public Affairs & Policy Experts
  • Public Health Administrator
  • Police Officer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Journalist

You too can be a part of it and save mankind from a disaster like the pandemic COVID-19.

Wish we don’t see a repeat of COVID-19 pandemic, ever in our lifetime. Hope we learn from the experience and the consequences and ensure that we don’t see another pandemic in our lifetime. But then, wishes may not come true. The rate at which various microbes are getting transmitted from various animals to humans over the last 25 years or so (such as HIV, Swine Flu Virus, etc.) and chances of biological warfare (in which microbes are used to debilitate or kill enemy population) point out to a likely future global scenario which may be similar to the present COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, we should always remain in a state of preparedness to face the challenges during such a crisis situation. Therefore, we will always need a very large number of professionals from various fields to continue to work at it and continue to be ready.

Would you not like to be one of them? Would you not like to contribute to saving mankind?

Prepare Now

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