Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

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Coping with COVID-19 as a Medical Student

COVID-19 has altered many students' study plans. As the new norm takes place, medical students are faced with the challenge of adapting to new ways of learning. For one, most universities are implementing virtual classes to replace face-to-face lectures. Although this is beneficial for the safety of staff and students, medical students report challenges[1] related to time management, use of technology, and communication.

To overcome time management difficulties, medical students should prioritise planning out classes and assignments in order to not only complete their courses, but to ensure that their academic performance is of quality. Although the use of technology can be a challenge, it is something that can be overcome with knowledge and frequent usage. Over time, medical students will be able to acquire the basics of technology needed to manage online learning. These changes can be overcome as they are still within the control of the students.

Medical students might experience increased anxiety[2] from the impact of COVID-19 towards their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Social distancing from family and friends might bring negative effects on mental health, not to mention social media being flooded with COVID-19 discussions. However, medical students need to realise that they are not alone. Just like themselves, there are medical students from all around the world, sharing the same thoughts and worries. Medical students can strengthen their emotional well-being by forming support groups among themselves, talking to professional medical staff, educators and counselors.

Besides academic performance and emotional well-being, medical students might also be conflicted on their sense of self-worth. Due to the current pandemic and depending on where these medical students are located, they might feel helpless knowing that they are unable to physically contribute in terms of hands-on patient care. Due to the likelihood of medical students being driven by altruism, they may feel like they are not playing their part in making the world a safer place during this pandemic. Medical students must know that there are other ways to contribute their expertise and knowledge, such as educating others on the pandemic and spreading positive messages across social platforms.

Medical students are the future asset to healthcare. They are important and their struggles during this pandemic should be acknowledged. Growing through these challenges are going to make future medical students more knowledgeable and well-equipped to face other challenges and changes in life.

[1][2] Esani M. Moving from face-to-face to online teaching. Clin Lab Sci. 2010 Summer;23(3):187-90. PMID: 20734893.

published on: 3 November 2020