CPM Spring 2020 - 17

daup h i n c m s .o rg

Much will be discussed and debated in
the coming months and years regarding the
response to COVID-19, including access
to personal protection equipment (PPE)
to limited testing to ethical issues of patient
privacy. In a time that has so many reasons to
criticize our leaders and governing bodies, one
aspect that has been the most uplifting is the
response by my medical student colleagues.
While doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and
other members of the medical team fight this
crisis on the front lines, medical students are
sitting at home. We join our student peers
across undergraduate and graduate programs
learning in online environments; however,
unlike our peers, medical students were once
deemed a part of these medical teams and
were actively learning by practicing patient
care directly. Yet, clinical rotations were canceled indefinitely across the country, leaving
medical students in a state of uncertainty.
Even in these uncertain times, medical
students across the country provided a
glimpse into the promising future of our
upcoming healthcare leaders. Within hours
of receiving news that students were no
longer permitted to participate in direct
patient care, the student leaders of Penn State
University College of Medicine reached out
to medical students to form work groups
from the sidelines to combat the issues facing
medical professionals.

While doctors,
nurses, lab
and other
members of the
medical team
fight this crisis
on the front
lines, medical
students are
sitting at home.

careers to the betterment of others would help
in times like this. But these medical students
were told to stay home, told that they were
not needed... told they were nonessential
members of the clinical team. Yet, they found
a way to serve their community anyways.
It demonstrates the paradigm shift in
medical education that medical educators
across the country have been advocating for
years. Students are increasingly becoming
more educated in health systems and are
now putting into practice their education
when it matters most. Students understand
that healthcare is far greater than a single
patient's H&P or medical management; it
is about the combined effects of government
policy, social determinants of health, physician well-being and so much more beyond
just the medical provider. What this crisis
has shown most evidently is that there are
gaps in our healthcare system, but some
of these gaps were identified and filled by
medical students.

It's hard to look to the future especially
in times of great anguish and isolation. But
I see what my fellow medical students are
doing in this time of need and I cannot
help but be in awe. This cohort of students
As emergency departments continued to has set a standard of volunteerism and an
experience increasing number of patients, understanding of healthcare that is rarely
in less than a week, medical students were asked for in our training. It demonstrates
trained on telemedicine services to triage an understanding of medicine that goes
Students quickly formed a COVID-19 patients with potential COVID-19 symptom- beyond symptoms, pathophysiology and
Student Task Force with multiple student ology or exposures under proper supervision. treatment. We are seeing the students' unprojects ranging from triaging patients via This small service lessened the patient burden derstanding of the importance of systems
telemedicine to social media public health on emergency departments, keeping healthy and humanistic thinking in patient care. We
campaigns. Penn State was not unique in this patients away from the hospital further are seeing students go above and beyond the
response though; across the country, medical minimizing the spread of the virus. Other call of their responsibilities. We are seeing
students were identifying gaps and creating projects include a contact tracer team that the next generation of physicians - and it
efforts to resolve the issues that the health- focuses on mapping out the whereabouts of is comforting.
care industry is currently experiencing. For COVID-19 positive patients and alerts any
example, as elementary schools and daycares possible contacts about potential exposure SOURCES:
closed down due to statewide lockdowns of risks. The list goes on and on, whether it is
nonessential services, some residents and knitting homemade face masks for hospital https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
doctors were put in a position of choosing workers or forming volunteer groups to pick index.html
serving their communities at work and staying up groceries for the elderly, medical students
home with their families. Students quickly have found a way to contribute significantly
identified this and offered their time for in these desperate times.
childcare - a small gesture by students, but
So why applaud the altruistic efforts of
a gesture that has a rippling effect to allow these students? It may seem like common
essential personnel to perform their duties sense that students who are dedicating their
at the hospital and care for patients in need.
Central PA Medicine Spring 2020 17

http://www.dauphincms.org https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

CPM Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CPM Spring 2020

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