COVID-19 has been dominating the conversation surrounding medical students over the past few weeks. And it absolutely should. Millions will die from this pandemic, and there are larger ethical and professional ramifications that require discussion. Should medical students be allowed to work when they are likely to be silent vectors of the disease? How is medical education going to accommodate missed clinical experiences? How will this epidemic affect the competence of the current medical student classes? The current generation of medical students has never experienced such a widespread upheaval of the public health system, and there are clearly numerous thoughts on how we should move forward.
Obviously, as a publication for medical students, we will be publishing many different perspectives surrounding COVID-19 over the following weeks. As trainees, we have always existed in an odd space, sometimes given too much responsibility for our experience and sometimes internally smoldering from boredom. The ambiguity of our roles as medical students has never been clearer in the face of COVID-19.
Our promise to you as the current editors-in-chief is to continue delivering thought-provoking perspectives about this pandemic from our perspectives as students. There is much to say, and we want to enrich the dialogues that are already happening surrounding the pandemic with medical student experiences.
That said, the world continues to move forward in spite of the pandemic. Had the coronavirus dialogue not emerged, many more of our submissions would be geared towards Match Day 2020 — a culmination of four years of medical school and a difficult residency application process. Many current fourth-year medical students were heartbroken when their Match Day celebrations were cancelled. Match Day had been a day that many of us were looking forward to — it had symbolic weight and cemented our commitment to medicine as we were surrounded by loved ones.
Both of us are current fourth-year medical students with cancelled or altered Match Days. Many of our friends and family have had to cancel important events — weddings, honeymoons, milestone birthday celebrations. This has been a time of grief and loss. And as the leaders of this publication, we wanted to acknowledge that grief. We are with you, and we feel the losses too.
So as we receive our NRMP emails tomorrow (one hour earlier than normal!), we want to give a message to our fellow fourth-year medical students: If you match tomorrow, congratulations! We cannot wait to work alongside you as colleagues, tackling the aftereffects of this pandemic and growing into full-fledged physicians. To those who did not match, we extend our most sincere support and encouragement.
This is a very stressful time for medical students, especially to those who are matching tomorrow. We encourage staying socially connected with people through Skype, FaceTime, or other forms of virtual communication. “Social distancing” does not mean “social isolation,” and self-care has never been more important. And if you are interested in writing some of your reflections surrounding these trying times, we are happy to collaborate and work with you to let your voice be heard.
All in all, we wish you the best of luck, and we will see you all on the other side.
Emma Martin and James Lee
Editors-in-Chief of in-Training