As many organizations and communities struggle to stop the spread of COVID-19, contact tracing remains an effective public health strategy in this fight. Contact tracing is a tool where interviews with those infected with COVID-19 identify others they may have exposed before becoming ill. These contacts are then monitored and advised to change their behavior to avoid potentially exposing others, avoiding further spread. This work requires skillful contact tracers who are able to effectively communicate with both cases and contacts, collecting information and delivering key public health messages.
I was thrilled to have been approached by CITI Program to develop a course designed to support contact tracers in performing their duties while working remotely. Together with expert public health and educational leaders from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University – Dr. Terry Adirim and Dr. Lisa Martinez, we created a three module course in preparation for the role and responsibilities of remote contact tracing. These modules are each designed to be completed in 30-45 minutes and can be taken together or individually as needed. Contact tracers are in high demand, and may find opportunities to work from home in other areas of the country.
Contact tracers need to understand the clinical course and transmission of COVID-19 in order to determine the incubation and infectious periods for the virus. They also determine a timeline and provide instructions on isolation or quarantine, as well as symptoms to watch for. Through these modules, contact tracers learn how the process works, and understand how to perform the key steps through examples. Unique to this course, we cover strategies for effective communication by phone and video, and provide guidance on potential challenges remote contact tracers may face. Professionalism, the ability to communicate and connect with cases and contacts, and assisting in answering questions and overcoming challenges contacts or cases may face, are essential to success in this role.
This Remote Contact Tracing course offers a foundational review for individuals who are new to contact tracing, including public health professionals, students, or those seeking employment as contact tracers. This course supplements additional training and jurisdictional-specific protocols provided by local and state health departments, and is particularly helpful for individuals performing contact tracing remotely. We hope you enjoy it!