Medical Students: Overcoming Barriers Of COVID-19 In Medical Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe for over a year. Presently, the end is still not in sight and we have yet to truly understand the lasting repercussions of the pandemic. Nevertheless, it is clear that the current situation is overwhelming our healthcare systems, economies, and education systems. Medical students in particular have experienced significant disruptions in their education due to restrictions brought about by the pandemic. 

A Learning Role

Medical students are expected to develop skills in clinical medicine and research to serve them as they progress forward as senior students, residents, attending physicians, or physician-scientists. In line with that, many medical institutions are striving to give the best medical education to help their students learn and develop the necessary medical skills. However, the pandemic outbreak has caused a halt to customary educational practices, and medical institutions together with the students have had to adapt accordingly, including resorting to online learning systems.

Although online learning has now shifted to become our new norm, there are many shortcomings associated with this learning system especially for medical students; these include a lack of accessibility to laboratories and experiments as well as hands-on opportunities. This is a challenge for medical students as they need to be exposed to not only theoretical studies but also practical experience with the guidance of physicians and doctors at hospitals. 

How Can Medical Students Cope?

Prior to the pandemic, medical students were both learning and contributing to the various inpatient and outpatient services. Although they have had to adjust to many changes, they can still learn and contribute via new systems, such as virtual patient visits and virtual interviews for residency.

Additionally, medical students should strive to maintain a routine despite having to be more cautious and being encouraged to stay home due to COVID-19. This may appear to be one of the challenges for most medical students because they have to shift from a structured (i.e attending required classes and clinical rotations) to an unstructured environment. As such, it will be best to have a good routine, including a proper sleeping schedule, and this can help recreate some normalcy in your daily life.

Students should also remember to not overcommit themselves for various tasks even if they might have more spare time. It will be beneficial for them to make use of this time wisely, and carve out some form of self-care into their routine.

In the current climate, social distancing has become a new way of life, preventing many individuals from having direct physical contact. However, with the current interconnected world, it is still possible for us to stay connected with our community. Medical students can take advantage of this to push forward social connections through various platforms (e.g. Zoom or Google Meet).

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