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Uncertainty around clinical placement, teaching, timetables, examination formats, and graduations have caused anxiety among medical students with Covid-19 are causing massive disruption to the traditional academic schedule, according to Mr Dónal Flynn, President of the Association of Medical Students, Ireland.
However, Mr Flynn stressed that there has been “an overarching sense of camaraderie, mutual support, and looking out for each other among medical students” in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We medical students can and will cope with being overwhelmed by exams and stress at this strange and frightening time, but our healthcare system will not be able to cope if it is overwhelmed, and it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent that from happening,” he told the Medical Independent.
Mr Flynn noted individual universities have taken varying approaches to the fast-tracking of final year examinations, as well as to communicating with students on the possibility of an earlier intern commencement date than the usual second Monday of July.
“Thanks to social connections between students of different medical schools, this has added to speculation, anxiety-inducing rumours and the uncertainty that is becoming characteristic of this surreal time in everyone’s lives,” he said.
Mr Flynn added that university professors have been very supportive during this time.
“We feel immensely proud of the workers in the Irish healthcare system who have taught us and who are working with admirable determination to minimise the negative impact of what is likely to be the biggest challenge of their professional careers, and whom we will soon (perhaps sooner than we formerly anticipated) work side-by-side with as team-mates,” he said.
He underlined how many medical students, eager to take up the opportunity to help in this endeavour, have answered the Be On Call for Ireland recruitment drive, while those in the preclinical stages of their studies are finding other ways to be of practical help, from volunteering to assisting healthcare staff with childcare, to collecting and delivering prescriptions for vulnerable members of their communities.