A devastating contagion wreaked havoc on human society, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and affecting billions adversely. The Covid-19 pandemic and the following quarantine measures disrupted the very fabric of human civilization and laid bare the fragile nature of human existence.
Technology and medical science came to the rescue, and so did medical personnel, researchers and the like. The untiring efforts, unflinching bravery and uncompromising sacrifices of front-line medical personnel helped the whole of humanity pull through.
But the deadly pandemic exacted a heavy toll on medical personnel in every country. Medical students, specifically, have been affected in a multifaceted manner. Therefore, it won’t be grossly inaccurate or inappropriate to state that Covid-19 affected medical students, academically, professionally and personally.
Let’s take a look at how.
Understanding the effect of the pandemic on medical students in the US & U
Medical students played an integral role as junior doctors and assistants across Covid-19 hospitals and facilities across the globe. In addition, the pandemic forced a generation of students to become intricately involved in the practicality of it all and witness the harsh realities of human life.
While traditional studies remained stalled or shifted in their nature, increased clinical rotations pushed many students to the brink. As a result, the demand for online nursing & medical assignment help increased manifold across the USA. Educational technology has been instrumental in helping overcome hurdles to theoretical and lecture-based education. Online academic resources, remote learning and writing services providing help with nursing assignment, etc., are just some of the avenues through which technology helped sustain the continuity of formal education.
Problems arose in training & academic scenarios where human interaction is a necessity. Some medical & healthcare systems prohibited mandatory clinical rotations, while others asked for volunteering to cope with rising cases.
Besides coping with academic uncertainty, the mental pressure and physical toll of working in a pandemic affected medical students.
Covid-19’s Impact on US Medical Students
A research article by BioMedical Central carried out a quantitative analysis of the cross-sectional survey conducted with medical students of six medical schools across the United States of America. The survey questions revolved around evaluating student perceptions & responses regarding factors such as:
- Covid-19’s impact on medical education;
- Necessary Ethical Obligations during a pandemic;
- Anxiety, Stress, and Burnout
- Preparations for clinical rotations
The results revealed some startling insights: –
- 5% of students responded, and nearly all (93.7%) were not directly involved in Covid-19 caregiving units, clinical rotations or in-patient contact. This indicates the hard-pressed and unrelenting nature of Covid-19 care as almost all students engaged in direct caregiving were, in all likelihood, unable to respond.
- At the same time, 61.3 % of respondents believed that they should resume routine clinical rotations to support the strained medical system.
- 7 % of students agree that the pandemic has disrupted their education significantly.
- 4% of survey respondents were ready to accept the risk of infection and agreed to return to the front lines.
- The study also revealed that the pandemic had a moderate effect on medical students’ stress and anxiety levels (84.1%).
- Adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) was the most crucial factor for students looking to return to the rotation, followed by sufficient testing for infection (19.3%) and antibody testing (16.2%).
The results reflect the severe impact of Covid-19 on medical education as well as students of the discipline. However, the medical student fraternity’s resilient, brave, and dutiful nature is also evident from the results, as the majority looked forward to the resumption of routine clinical rotations.
The Biomedcentral article also cites numerous examples from international medical & healthcare fraternities to shine light upon three critical consequences of the pandemic on proponents of the field: disruption of their education, personal stress & anxiety and a feeling of deep ethical obligation among the student community regarding clinical shifts.
Next up, we take a look at how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the UK medical student community and their responses throughout.
Impact of Covid-19 On Medical Students In The UK
We look at the results and observations in an article published by the British Medical Journal, one of the oldest scientific publications.
Like most other healthcare and medical education systems, med education programs in the UK comprise two components, a university-based preclinical phase and a subsequent clinical phase in a healthcare setting.
The pandemic threw everything into disarray. The article points out how institutions shut down temporarily, and clinical rotations became haphazard, with students removed from their existing clinical attachments & then recalled to cope with the relentless pressure of Covid-19 cases.
Medical Education and Covid-19
- The BMJ research article states the responsibilities of the UK medical schools to the pandemic has been varied. Academic institutions have shut down, and students have to become accustomed to different learning environments & paradigms.
- Procedures for conducting assessments and examinations were modified drastically. Various approaches have been adopted, and most of them involved digital & remote learning technologies in some way or another.
Many medical schools, however, have delayed or canceled examinations outright.
- The article expresses concerns about the educational integrity of the programs with the massive shift in pedagogy due to the pandemic’s disruption. While class lectures can be easily administered online, practical sessions, problem-based learning, patient interactions, etc., require a clinical setting.
Access to clinical care centers and medical facilities is no longer feasible for academic purposes. Hospitals, care facilities, nursing homes and healthcare centers have been overwhelmed by one surge after another, and student rotations have become necessary to support the exceedingly burdened medical system.
- According to the article, the UK medical education system is implementing widespread overhaul and restructuring of the delivery of academic services.
Such drastic overhauls are distressing to the learners. Medical students are apprehensive about their career progress, and the stress on their mental health has been immense.
Work-related stress and career concerns are at their breaking point for most students in the UK healthcare system.
Role of Medical Students in a Crisis
Volunteering is the cornerstone of the healthcare sector during pandemics and other kinds of emergency medical situations.
However, the devastating nature of the current pandemic and confusion & uncertainty about appropriate student roles in medical facilities have been significant obstacles to the UK National Health Service.
- The article states that student participation in clinical care across institutions. While some institutions have prohibited students from patient interaction, other medical schools have assigned hospital-based roles to students.
- The results of a 2019 survey by the National University of Ireland show that 59% of participating medical students were willing to volunteer in a pandemic-like situation.
81% believed that healthcare professionals have a moral obligation towards the public and 98% indicated that altruism is a major motivating factor for medical volunteering.
- The article also points out that skills and competency are critical factors. While altruism is essential, adequate clinical competency is crucial for the best outcomes.
Employing misguided and unprepared students can be detrimental to efforts against the pandemic and may even amplify the risk of spreading the contagion further.
The need for support personnel is urgent, but to meet such necessities, one must not forego the crucial factors & variables involved that affect the severity of the situation.
- When writing and researching the article, most students across the UK healthcare system were unaware of the implication of working in a pandemic situation.
- Medical students in their final year possess huge potential but working in a pandemic requires different kinds of preparation & mindset. The article points out that 70% of students in a survey conducted at a US medical school were unprepared to handle emergencies without targeted training.
- 91% of respondents in another survey welcomed the idea of disaster medicine and training. 94% considered it crucial, but only 1 in 10 knew about disaster management in detail.
- The article concludes by stating that proper pandemic preparedness must keep medical students ready for any crisis. A paradigm shift in curricula and teaching paradigms will be instrumental. It will also allow pupils & institutions to overcome academic disruptions, strengthening student skills & resiliency and aid them in transitioning from students to successful doctors & healthcare givers.
Key Takeaway: The unprecedented nature of the Coronavirus pandemic laid bare the unpreparedness and lack of coordination in the healthcare and medical education systems of two of the world’s powerful & influential nations. The response of institutions and administrations was impulsive as the pandemic grew and the medical student community was affected considerably.
Yet, despite all such disruptions and devastation, altruism and humane obligations remained strong among the student community. Unfortunately, flawed and unprepared medical & healthcare systems and an aggressive contagion prevented self-less individuals from performing their duties perfectly.
Author-Bio: Rebecca Stevens is a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at a significant private medical university in the U.K. She is also an occasional writer and tutor at MyAssignmenthelp.com, a leading assignment and essay help service in the UK.