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How COVID-19 has impacted my medical school experience

By Isabella Munford

As COVID-19 was becoming headline news I started receiving emails along the lines of, ‘please come into hospital for placement but due to limited resources, we cannot give you PPE so please stay clear of any areas that need PPE.’ I was, perhaps expectedly, a tad apprehensive to go into healthcare settings when COVID was in obvious abundance and we – medical students – would not be protected. However, this feeling didn’t last long. No less than three days later, we found out that our clinical examinations had been cancelled and medical placements had also been cancelled for the foreseeable future. A sense of relief washed over me as the medical school had provided an answer to my question regarding whether or not to go into hospitals. However, soon it became clear that COVID-19 was not going to only impact my hospital placements, but was about to pierce much deeper into everyone’s lives. 

As with most other courses, my lectures went online, with amazing teachers who still found the time and patience to teach year two medical students despite battling COVID-19 on the frontline. Extra effort was made to cover the clinical aspects of our course that we may have missed; doctors made sure nothing was overlooked. In what seemed like no time at all, we had our exam (online, of course), which was certainly a new experience – neither unpleasant nor pleasant – and then summer holidays began.

Hopefully the transition to year three will be smooth, and, based on my experience of how everything has been handled over the past months, I believe it will be. We have been informed that placements will resume as normally as possible, with perhaps more staggered placement times to avoid a tsunami of medical students in hospitals, themselves adapting to the new world we live in. We have courses on donning and doffing PPE, along with a whole host of other COVID modules to ensure we are fully versed in the ‘new normal’ medical environment awaiting us. Most of our lectures will continue to be virtual, and face-to-face meetings are discouraged unless necessary. It is going to be without doubt a new environment that will require adjustment, however after seeing the ability of my fellow students and teachers to adapt reassures me that the transition will be somewhat smooth.

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Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Part of this transition that has been particularly pertinent to me is adjusting to working from home, which in itself presents many challenges. However, with an optimistic eye there are also many benefits to it. Personally, I have found more time to explore forgotten interests like reading and writing, which has really helped me reflect on this new experience. I would definitely encourage a ‘lockdown friendly’ hobby to engage in during this period as a way of releasing any underlying stress or tension. Who knows, maybe that could include becoming a writer for ‘Nucleus’ this upcoming year, or perhaps you’ll become an award winning sourdough baker instead.

Who knows, maybe that could include becoming a writer for ‘Nucleus’ this upcoming year, or perhaps you’ll become an award winning sourdough baker instead.

Either way, as a community at KCL I’m sure we will come through this stronger and closer as a group. However, if anyone is sceptical about the year ahead, please be rest assured that there are many resources out there to support you that can be found on the KCL website (https://www.kcl.ac.uk/coronavirus/students). Good luck for the year ahead!

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