The impact of COVID-19 is affecting not only health care providers on the frontlines across the country, but thousands of medical students who have been removed from clinical rotations in order to avoid direct patient contact in response to the pandemic.
Practicing social distancing required getting creative in how students would continue to learn the critical skills they would need as physicians navigating a new landscape in patient care. So, students and the Clinical Sciences Subcommittee in the UTHSC College of Medicine decided to create a course.
Ramie Mansberg, M3, and Unsa Shafi, M4, collaborated with Amanda Miller, MD, Family Medicine Clerkship director, to create and launch Emergency and Crisis Management, a four-week online elective that trains students on the competencies needed to navigate health care during a pandemic.
The curriculum covers essential skills, including the different methods of screening, prevention and risk management, epidemiological mapping, the role of telemedicine, as well as where to get resources to maintain wellness.
“We wanted to learn what we would need to do if we were put into an emergency setting,” said Mansberg. She and Shafi set out to speak with other medical schools across the country in March to develop the curriculum and built the course from the ground up, working alongside faculty.
We really got to collaborate and exchange resources and come together as a medical school community during this time of crisis,” Shafi said. “Everyone wanted to have their students educated to handle a crisis like this, or crises like this that may come in the future. It’s so special for our students to have this course so that they could be on the frontlines one day.”
Since it launched in April, the entire third-year medical class has taken the course, and several fourth-year medical students, who had elective credit, have taken the course. Since students are not able to go back to clinical rotations for the month of May, second-year medical students will also take the course. In total, that is about 334 students. In addition, students in the Physician Assistant Program have also taken a modified version of the course for their specialty.
“The students have really stepped up,” said Dr.Miller. “As a faculty member, it’s always encouraging seeing different student leaders come up and say this is a course we want and we want to help, how can we teach it, how can we develop it, how can we stay engaged. It’s so encouraging because this is the future of medicine, and medicine is very different right now, and the landscape of what we are doing is very different.”
Mansberg volunteered at the UTHSC COVID-19 testing site. Mansberg says a large portion of the course is discussion based and students, most of whom has been involved with the UTHSC COVID-19 testing sites at Tiger Lane and Frayser, are able to share their experiences navigating the pandemic. “The conversations in this course have been really rich and people have been excited about it and enjoyed conversing with their peers about this science that is just so expansive and changing on a daily basis.”
“Fourth-year medical students are going to be practicing medicine in a few short weeks,” said Shafi, who is graduating in May and going into an Emergency Medicine residency. “That can already be so daunting, but in this situation, it provides a whole other series of obstacles we’re going to have to learn from, and practice medicine in, for the first time.”
She said this is a unique time to be a learner, whether a student or resident physician. “We really wanted this course to provide the tools, education, and background needed to practice medicine in this way and in this situation. It did seem very scary for a lot of medical students, and they have been really appreciative of this course.”
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories looking at how UTHSC students, faculty, and staff across the campus are contributing to the battle against the coronavirus. We are seeking stories about students, faculty, staff, and alumni contributing to this effort. Please contact email@example.com if you have ideas for future stories. For up-to-date information and resources about the coronavirus, go to https://uthsc.edu/coronavirus/.