Back in late March, I was a medical student in D.C. studying for exams. Today, I am a 23-year-old living with my parents again. Despite being in school 5+ hours away, my bedroom in upstate New York has become my new classroom. Being at home has its perks: I get food from my mom again, and I can wear pajamas all day if I wanted to (not that I actually do that). However, there are many things that don’t feel right about being a medical student who has no connection to the medical world right now.
This year, like those before us, we entered our study periods for Step 1 with some trepidation — both about the long hours of studying and the high stakes of the exam. Like those before us, we reassured ourselves that if we put our time in now, we’d be able to move beyond memorizing minutiae to caring for patients in the hospital. And then, unlike those before us, testing centers across the world closed.
Today, my grandparents are older than Saul was when distanced from his family. Now during the coronavirus pandemic, they too are isolated. This time it’s not because they are the fomites, but because I might be. Those big enveloping hugs that grandma lives for and kisses from grandpa will likely become a thing of the past.
Hahnemann’s doors stay closed and our patients are waiting. While Philadelphia has stopped negotiations, we, as students with futures in health care, cannot accept this. We demand that Freedman provide free use of Hahnemann for the duration of the pandemic.
This year, a new threat has emerged. Across the border in Iran, COVID-19 has killed scores of people and infected many more, including a deputy health minister, prompting the Iraqi government to close the frontier. Iraq reported its first cases in recent weeks, with 1,415 current case numbers, as of April 15, 2020.
There has been limited to no coverage regarding what it’s like to get sick during this time and to enter the health care system without knowing if your condition is related to the pandemic. I envisioned it to be a frightening situation with much grey area, and then I endured it myself.
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.
Working with other medical students at our university, and with others all across the country, we have developed an initiative designed to match students with health care workers in a longitudinal one-to-one relationship to adhere to social distancing guidelines and provide necessary services such as childcare, petsitting, and errands.
In recent days, some medical schools have begun canceling rotations in the face of a growing pandemic. The halls of my own school have been abuzz with conversations of deans and students alike about how a medical school must operate during an outbreak.