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Medical students and COVID-19: the need for pandemic preparedness
  1. Lorcan O'Byrne1,
  2. Blánaid Gavin2,
  3. Fiona McNicholas2,3,4
  1. 1 School of Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, SMMS, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Children Health Ireland, Crumlin, Dublin 12, Ireland
  4. 4 Lucena Clinic Rathgar, Dublin 6, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Lorcan O'Byrne, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; lorcan.obyrne{at}


The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted unprecedented global disruption. For medical schools, this has manifested as examination and curricular restructuring as well as significant changes to clinical attachments. With the available evidence suggesting that medical students’ mental health status is already poorer than that of the general population, with academic stress being a chief predictor, such changes are likely to have a significant effect on these students. In addition, there is an assumption that these students are an available resource in terms of volunteerism during a crisis. This conjecture should be questioned; however, as those engaging in such work without sufficient preparation are susceptible to moral trauma and adverse health outcomes. This, in conjunction with the likelihood of future pandemics, highlights the need for ‘pandemic preparedness’ to be embedded in the medical curriculum.

  • education
  • education/programs
  • emergency medicine

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  • Correction notice The paper has been updated since first published to update Author details, Acknowledgements and Contributorship.

  • Contributors Each of the authors contributed significantly to this manuscript in its entirety.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study. Not applicable.

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