Med Students ‘Feel Very Behind’ Because of COVID-Induced Disruptions in Training

September 1, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, For Career Seekers

Last modified September 2, 2020

According to this article by Kaiser Health News, COVID-19 is disrupting just about every student’s 2020 education, but medical students have it particularly hard right now.

“It’s a nightmare scenario for the class of 2021,” said Jake Berg, a fourth-year student at the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pikeville. In March, students were abruptly pulled out of hospitals and medical offices, where they normally work with professionals to learn hands-on about treating patients. Over the course of less than two weeks, he said, medical students in “pretty much the entire country” transitioned from seeing patients in person to learning online.

The problem is most severe for medical students in their third and fourth years. Year three is when most medical students do their “core clinical clerkships.” These are one- or two-month stints in hospitals and clinics, through which they get the experience of specialties such as internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and obstetrics/gynecology.

Fourth-year students tend to spend time in more specialized options, often traveling to get experience in specialties in short supply at their own medical school’s affiliated hospitals, and also to informally “audition” at places they might like to apply to for residency. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, “away rotations” have been suspended, and residency interviews for next year’s graduating class will be done virtually.

Schools and hospitals are trying to restore the core clerkships but, in many areas, this is a work in progress. The uncertainty adds significantly to students’ stress levels.

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