Pursuing health careers in the midst of a pandemic : a phenomenological case study of the impacts of COVID-19 on Black pipeline student perceptions of healthcare and the healthcare workforce.


The purpose of this phenomenological case study was to fill a gap in literature surrounding the perspectives of Black pipeline students on the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare profession and their pursuit of a health career. Student perspectives are significant because minorities make up only 28% of all health-related professionals. Of that 28%, Blacks compose 11% of the healthcare workforce (Funk & Parker, 2018). A review of the literature revealed that there is a need to shape and develop educational and institutional practices that take into consideration a student’s home and community culture. The review includes literature on the climate needed for minorities to be successful on college campuses (Museus et al. 2011), readiness in preparing minority students for careers in health (Byrd & McDonald, 2005; Kendricks et al., 2013), and an examination of how COVID-19 has impacted the current healthcare workforce. This qualitative phenomenological case study relied on questionnaires, focus groups, and the lived experiences of current college students, recent graduates, graduate students, and medical students who are current matriculants at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) or have participated in HCOP Academy at MSM. The research questions investigated how COVID-19 has impacted social, environmental, school, and educational factors that influences pursuit of a health career and whether proximity to the profession had any impact on their persistence. The researcher analyzed data using the professional socialization theoretical framework and provided the basis of how professional self-concepts are socially influenced throughout an individual’s lifetime. This study yielded three main findings: (1) Connectedness—Black Representation and Sense of Community and Belonging is a Motivator for Career Persistence for Black Students in the Healthcare Pipeline (2) Social Media during COVID-19 Negatively Impacted Healthcare and the Workforce, and (3) Proximity to the Profession—COVID-19 Invoked Alternative Options in Students Farthest Away from the Profession. The United States is becoming more and more diverse with the need for a more diverse workforce. As a result, institutions and organization who prepare students for careers in health will need to be more intentional regarding the environment and support provided to Black and minority students.



Phenomenological case study. COVID-19. Black pipeline students. Black representation. Sense of community. Sense of belonging. Connectedness. HCOP. HCOP Academy. Morehouse School of Medicine. Professional socialization. Healthcare. Healthcare pipeline. Social media. Diverse workforce.