It feels preemptive to discuss emergence while sitting in the living room where I’ve spent 15 hours a day for the past month — bradycardic afternoons mirroring the day prior. Yet each day the sun emerges, and we along with it, venturing out onto balconies and porches. As medical students, we take our pro re nata walks and remember to cross the street so our paths don’t intersect those of our neighbors.
We’re now all online / but you’re still in person. / As things progress / they just seem to worsen.
Shortness of breath is a frustrating experience. The feeling of not being able to get air into the deepest parts of your lungs can be scary. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, more and more people are experiencing shortness of breath — one of the symptoms of the virus.
It has been two months since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. People are itching to return to “normal,” to break out of their so-called home confinement; however, what is it like to be a person in an actual prison, right now, stuck in a crowded confinement that extends before and after this pandemic?
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.