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Covid-19: medical students should not work outside their competency, says BMA

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1197 (Published 24 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1197

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COVID-19: the psychological implications on medical students

In the wake of the sudden COVID-19 pandemic, the virus has posed a physical and mental burden on civilians on a global scale. There is no doubt that healthcare professionals are particularly vulnerable, which is in turn affecting medical students who are yet to enter the clinical workforce. In addition to the fears surrounding exposure to the life-threatening virus, concerns relating to undersupply of personal protection equipment (PPE), as well as the increased workload and irregular working hours, have created a sense of apprehension with regards to entering the medical field. As medical staff have an overwhelming responsibility of care for an ever-increasing number of patients who may suddenly deteriorate in health, they are constantly being exposed to critical illness and deaths on a regular basis. This, as well as the moral dilemmas staff encounter whilst battling with limited resources, is mentally and physically demanding, with emotions of anxiety and depression being apparent throughout the pandemic. With limited knowledge of the reality of working during this difficult time, it is inevitable for many medical students to overestimate the situation and feel unprepared for the clinical workforce.

It is thus imperative that we take a step back to assess and understand how the current situation has psychologically implicated medical students thus far, to allow health care policies to be put in place early on; this will ensure medical students feel confident and prepared for their future career as medical doctors. This may be achieved through effective communication with regards to the realities of treating COVID-19 patients, counselling to help alleviate negative emotions felt by medical students, as well as education on how to control the spread of future epidemics.

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 June 2020
Haneeyah S Rahimi
Medical Student
London, United Kingdom