The COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on direct patient interaction for medical students throughout the bulk of the last school year. As some schools begin allowing students to return to clinical rotations – a critically important move for third-year medical students – multiple factors remain at play. These include:
- Clinical volume: Many patients who would otherwise head directly to the clinic or hospital for a troublesome but not apparently critical or urgent medical issue are holding off on treatment. This is particularly true for elective procedures. As COVID cases decline, the hope for hospitals and practices is that those non-COVID patients will flood back in. If not, there may simply be insufficient clinical opportunity for students to benefit. Many schools are pulling students from clinicals if patient volume dips below 50 percent of pre-pandemic numbers.
- Adequate supervision: Another potential issue is the lack of bandwidth, so to speak, in the ability for physicians supervise students completing clinicals. This could be one of two scenarios – doctors too overwhelmed with COVID cases to adequately cover students, or doctors out because they’re showing signs of COVID symptoms themselves.
- Lack of available personal protective equipment (PPE): To help keep students safe, medical schools are keeping an close eye on the availability of PPE. If certain supply benchmarks aren’t maintained, learners will be called off clinical rotations out of safety concerns both for students and all those coming in contact with them.
- Conditions at treatment facilities: Conditions at off-campus healthcare facilities can prove pivotal deciding points. For instance, a high percentage of positive COVID tests, the number of emergency room visits by patients with COVID-19 symptoms, staffing numbers or simply a feeling of overwhelm can allow for or nix clinical rotations. There also remains chance of governmental orders issued that might include restrictions on medical trainees as the pandemic numbers surge or subside in different locales.
As you progress in your medical education, WOLFPACC offers multiple resources including online tutoring and USMLE and COMLEX review courses designed to help you ace your exams on the first try. Call 904-209-3140 or visit us online for information.