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Covid-19: the medical students responding to the pandemic

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 15 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2160

Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

  1. Florence Kinder, third year medical student1,
  2. Anna Harvey, BMJ editorial scholar2
  1. 1University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2London, UK
  1. Correspondence to um17frk{at}

The covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of thousands of hours of clinical placements, suspension of teaching in person, and the postponement of most exams. This has left medical students with an unusual amount of free time but a strong desire to be part of the response to the crisis. Although final year students have newly graduated and are expected to or already have started structured roles within the national health service imminently, those who are less senior are finding other ways to volunteer their time and skills.

The Medical Schools Council guidance for medical students volunteering to help with the covid-19 response emphasises that they must prioritise their studies,1 but this hasn’t stopped student groups from across the United Kingdom turning their minds and hands to supporting the UK’s covid-19 response. As Penelope Sucharitkul, a third year medical student at the University of Leeds wrote in a recent article published by BMJ Opinion, “It may be before my time, but we will eventually be the surgeons, GPs, and emergency doctors of the future. I can’t stand by and let this pandemic blow over without lifting a finger.”2

In this article we showcase some of the medical students who are using their skills to tackle problems caused by covid-19. These students are involved in various initiatives across the United Kingdom.

Key worker support networks

The HealthSHIP—Health Students Helping in Pandemics platform,3 founded by ScotGEM (Scottish graduate entry medicine) medical students Cassandra Baiano and Ronald MacDonald, began with a tweet suggesting that students offer key workers help with childcare. The tweet received more than 2500 likes and sparked the idea for a nationwide network, which now involves hundreds of medical students and healthcare workers from London to Dundee. Through …

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