I took Johns Hopkins University’s 21-hour COVID-19 contact tracing course, and I think everyone should too

Shot of an unrecognisable gloved woman using a smartphone in an airport
Students learn to become contact tracers, to identify contacts, and to support both patients and healthcare workers.

  • I took the free online COVID-19 contact tracing course offered by John Hopkins University.
  • I learned how to become a contact tracer and save lives, and I think everyone should take it.
  • The course is taught by experts and my version included an online help forum – I’d give it a B+.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Although most of us are now overloaded with information about COVID-19, there’s always more to learn.

New variants have led to more research and there is still no clear picture of when exactly the pandemic will end.

A John Hopkins professor, Dr. Martin Makary, said the US would reach herd immunity by April, but other experts disagree.

Until that happens, contact tracing and self-isolation will have to continue.

I decided to take the COVID-19 contact tracing course offered by John Hopkins so that I could learn more about the work of the trackers and how they’re helping to reduce the impact of the pandemic.

I took the Spanish version but the US course listed on Coursera is a free seven-hour class taught by Emily Gurley, Ph.D., MPH, an infectious disease epidemiologist with a background in outbreak response.

What you’ll learn and how

The course covers the science of COVID-19, including its infectious period and why contact tracing is a particularly effective method of stopping the virus in its tracks.

Course students will learn how to become contact tracers, identify contacts, and support both patients and healthcare workers in the process.

They will be given simulations to explain some of the challenges posed by contact tracing.

In my course, which was 21 hours long, we had a Virtual Campus Forum where people could ask classmates or tutors any questions they had about the course.

healthcare workers coronavirus
People who aren’t healthcare workers will have had a different experience of the pandemic.

There’s also a final exam that’s easy enough to pass if you’ve studied and are clear on the key concepts.

There are several questions and it’ll take longer than you think as you have to really understand what they’re saying.

Unlike most exams, you won’t have to wait to find out your grade – they’ll tell you straight away.

After completing the course, you’ll get a certificate too.

You should take it even if you don’t work in healthcare

A lot of people asked me why I was taking the course if I wasn’t a healthcare professional.

My answer was always the same.

The course is a great way to learn more about what’s happening in our world right now and the important work contact tracers do.

People who aren’t healthcare workers will have had a different experience of the pandemic and there are worries that complacency is on the rise – testing has already declined in the US.

india contact tracing
Course students will learn how to become contact tracers, identify contacts, and support both patients and healthcare workers.

It could be a wake-up call, or it could prepare you if you ever have to deal with a COVID-19 case in your home or local community, as a lot of people don’t immediately know what to do and there’s a lot to take in.

I found the course very useful, although I think certain things could be improved – like having notes available in writing, for example. I’d give the course a B+.

Ultimately, I learned that being a contact tracer isn’t just about looking for positive cases, but also about saving lives.

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