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Medical students and COVID-19: the need for pandemic preparedness
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  • Published on:
    Do newly graduated medical students require a “break” from clinical responsibilities to truly be prepared to cope with the covid-19 pandemic? A response to O’Byrne et. al
    • Timia Raven-Gregg, Medical Student Cardiff University
    • Other Contributors:
      • Thomas Beresford, Medical Student

    O’Byrne et. al raise the important issue of pandemic preparedness in medical students’ readiness to deal with the covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to volunteer to help, however, there has been a lack of strict consideration for the preparedness and clinical competency of medical students in these circumstances. The article correctly highlights that medical students’ desire to help is insufficient alone, and there is a need for adequate medical education and training to better prepare students for any potential moral trauma and adverse risks to mental health. However, for those newly graduated students, we feel as though the need for a break from clinical activity is a concept that has been overlooked and may be imperative to true pandemic preparedness amongst this cohort.

    The majority of medical students will complete an intensive 5-year curriculum before graduating and applying to the foundation programme to continue their training, 43% of whom will have had no break from education up to this point.(1) As highlighted in the article by O’Byrne et. al, many of these students face problems with their mental wellbeing during medical school and thereon after. These problems regarding mental and emotional wellbeing are heightened in situations where students feel anxious or unprepared, such as clinical placements and rotations.(2) The importance of breaks to aid mental wellbeing are well recognised throughout the curriculum, such as tim...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    The ethical dilemma of medical students during COVID- study online or volunteer.

    Dear Editor,

    I read with great enthusiasm the article by O’Byrne. As a senior medical student, my feelings resonate with her discussion. I also believe that medical students are given a further ethical challenge. This challenge is dedicating time towards volunteering during the COVID-19 outbreak or continuing with studies remotely. As stated in the article, the ‘curriculum is not readily compatible with the removal of students from their clinical placements(1). However, the guidance from Medical Schools Council (MSC)(2) state that the student’s first responsibility is to continue education and not jeopardise this with taking on too many additional duties.

    As the GMC has not suspended education(3), we attend online tutorials and prepare for exams. However, one could argue that the online tutorials and self-learning from textbooks is not adequate education for such a vocational profession. Furthermore, medical schools have created excellent programmes for students in all years to volunteer and help. This ranges from practical clinical work for senior students to first-year students taking on tasks like the general public. With such well-managed, organised volunteering schemes, it seems that the student body has a duty to help. With students coming forward to volunteer in such large numbers(4) it is suggestive that medical students, just like other medical professionals, feel they have a moral duty to help in healthcare.

    Even though these well-organise...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.

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