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Covid-19 Response

UCSF and Salesforce Launch Free Contact Tracing Course on Trailhead

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Across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 contact tracers to help limit the spread and safely reopen the economy.

To that end, today the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) unveiled a free course on Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, to help anyone learn the fundamentals of contact tracing. The approximately 3.5 hour course covers the science of the virus, its impact on public health, interview techniques and effective communication skills. The content is developed and taught by experts at UCSF’s School of Medicine through a series of on-demand video lessons.

Trailhead’s collaboration with UCSF furthers its commitment to help people prepare for in-demand jobs by empowering anyone to become a contact tracer – one of the most sought-after skills today.

To learn more, we spoke with Dr. Michael Reid, MD & Assistant Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine, and Heather Conklin, SVP & GM of Trailhead at Salesforce.

UCSF’s free Trailhead course teaches contact tracing fundamentals

Q. What drew your teams together to form this partnership?

Dr. Reid: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused parallel devastation across the globe, with 6 million people infected in the United State and more than 200,000 deaths. Like many others, the UCSF team was motivated to enable a robust response to the disease. We know contact tracing is a critical public health intervention that can save lives, so we created a training toolkit to help anyone acquire the knowledge and skills to become a contact tracer. 

We partnered with Salesforce, a long-standing UCSF supporter, because we knew Trailhead could reach millions of people who could start learning immediately – and for free. The United States needs hundreds of thousands of contact tracers, and we believe our partnership with Salesforce will help empower the next wave of these critical workers.

Heather: When COVID-19 hit, Salesforce turned to the leading experts at UCSF to learn how to best help through this crisis. Our new contact tracing content is just the latest example of how we’ve partnered to respond to the pandemic. 

In early March, Salesforce mobilized a new taskforce to deliver more than 50 million units of personal protective equipment (PPE) to UCSF. And together, Salesforce and UCSF delivered PPE to more than 65 hospitals across 10 states. Salesforce also donated $3 million to UCSF’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Creating this learning content together was the natural next step in our response to COVID-19. UCSF has unparalleled medical expertise, while Trailhead offers a free online learning platform used by more than 2.5 million people around the world. Together, we knew we could make an impact in skilling up contact tracers to help the world reopen safely.

Experts at UCSF’s School of Medicine teach with a series of on-demand video lessons

Q. Can you provide an overview of what you’re releasing?

Heather: This course, which is available for free on Trailhead, was developed by leading experts at UCSF to empower anyone to learn the core knowledge and skills required to become a contact tracer. The guided learning path, or what we at Trailhead call a trail, is divided into four modules:

The content is video-driven and interactive, making the information accessible and engaging. Learners can watch on-demand lessons with UCSF professors from the comfort of their homes, on their own time. It’s gamified, with flashcards and multiple choice quizzes that demonstrate expertise and illustrate progress.

Q. Can you tell us about the UCSF team who created this content?

Salesforce and UCSF share a commitment to creating an inclusive future, which is why a core focus of this course is on understanding the implicit bias that often comes into play during contact tracing. It explores how bias might impact a case investigation interview, ways to challenge biases and how to provide culturally sensitive care.

Dr. Reid: Prior to COVID, many of the UCSF doctors behind this course were focused on global health work, including implementing HIV programs and delivering care in remote places around the world. However, the pandemic and subsequent travel limitations caused our daily work to come to a halt. 

There was early recognition that San Francisco and California needed to implement a contact tracing program, so we jumped into that work headfirst. To date, we’ve already completed this training with more than 8,000 people across the state of California – and now we’re excited to expand our reach by bringing it to Trailhead.

Q. Why are contact tracers so important?

Dr. Reid: Contact tracing enables us to effectively reach individuals at the greatest risk of developing COVID, alert them to their risk and ask them to quarantine. Given we don’t currently have a vaccine or viable treatments for the disease, effectively scaling contact tracing will provide a much better chance of reducing the spread of the virus allowing us to reopen our economies, protect the most vulnerable members of our communities and ultimately save lives.

Q. What inspired Trailhead’s focus on contact tracing?

Heather: Trailhead’s mission has always been to prepare people for in-demand jobs, and contact tracing is one of the most sought-after skill sets today. We wanted to democratize the opportunity to learn about contact tracing, so that anyone – regardless of their location, race, gender or socio-economic status – could learn these marketable skills.

This learning content is just one of several ways Salesforce is helping the world get back to work through contact tracing. When we launched in May, we helped our customers reopen safely and protect their workforces with our new Contact Tracing Solution

Through these efforts, we hope to empower a new surge of contact tracers that will help people all over the world get back to work – and enable the world to get back to growth. 

Q. What skills are required for someone to be an effective contact tracer?

Dr. Reid: People who are drawn to contact tracing work want to change society and make a positive impact.

Contact tracers reach people – often the most vulnerable members of society – during a moment where they feel anxious. To that end, being a good contact tracer demands empathy and meeting people with compassion in a difficult moment. 

Contact tracers must be good educators. This work requires distilling complex information, including explaining the disease and why people need to quarantine. We also advocate for individuals in a myriad of ways, including by providing them with the resources they need to be able to quarantine, referring them to social services so they can stay at home successfully. 

Q. How can anyone get started today?

Heather: Contact tracing is an entirely new field to many of us. Whether you’re interested in a career in contact tracing or just want to understand more about what contact tracing entails, you can start learning the fundamentals on Trailhead today. 

After you’ve completed the trail, you can visit our Contact Tracer Career Page to learn more about what it takes to become a contact tracer and connect to job opportunities. 

Finally, keep an eye out for the Spanish version of the content, which is coming soon.

Q. What else did Trailhead announce today? 

Heather: Today, Salesforce kicks off its first annual Trailblazers Innovate Series, where our community will come together to learn new ways to innovate, hear from Trailblazers around the world and preview new Trailhead features.

To help people skill up and connect from anywhere, we’re introducing new mobile innovations. We’re excited to announce Trailhead GO for Android, now in beta, bringing the power of the Trailhead app to the world’s most popular mobile operating system. We’re also bringing the Trailblazer Community to mobile for the first time with Community Trailhead GO. Whether you’re new to the Salesforce ecosystem or have been in the mix for years, there’s a community of Trailblazers ready to help you succeed – and now you can connect on the go to share Salesforce knowledge, ask questions and discuss new ideas. We’ll be sharing more details on availability soon. 

To help bridge the divide between job seekers and employers, live today are new Job Listings on Career Pages, bringing job listings onto Trailhead for the first time. Now after learning on Trailhead, anyone can explore relevant job listings right in their local areas, allowing them to connect to career opportunities without ever leaving the Trailhead website. 

To learn more about these innovations, head to the Trailhead Medium.


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