My experience as a final year medical student during Covid-19

My experience as a final year medical student during Covid-19

Published: 27 March 2020

By Daniel Huddart
@BecomingaDr Team

Today was meant to be my last exam of medical school, a test of what I’ve learnt over the last few and a rite of passage before beginning the next chapter of my life. 6 years of education, over 100 sign offs and 20 placements at 13 hospitals all coming together in one final exam. But there was no exam today, in fact I finished medical school a week early. If you had told me only a few months ago that my exams would be cancelled, I would have jumped at the chance. But the feeling is very different today – there is more uncertainty than joy, more doubt than relief. You can probably imagine the reason for this disruption. The Covid-19 outbreak has brought disruption for everyone, no matter where you live or what you do.

For medical students, all placements and clinical exams are cancelled, with all learning moved to online platforms. For many, the prospect of sitting at a desk for 7 hours a day watching online lectures is quite demotivating. I find many friends in younger years unsure how or what they should be studying.

For final year medical students, the change is particularly dramatic. Many of us imagined we would be celebrating at this point, getting ready to leave the UK for our electives abroad. As Corona began appearing in the news at the start of the year, we received news that some electives were being cancelled. First China and Singapore. Then Australia and the U.S. And then everywhere. At first many of us thought this was something that would only impact a few select countries, until eventually it became obvious this would affect everyone. Electives were only the first cancellation, Final Year Dinners, holidays and graduations have all been cancelled or put on hold.

One reassuring aspect of this situation is the widespread solidarity felt nationally. Watching doctors come out of retirement to help, and hearing the nation applaud NHS workers from their windows, it’s hard not to feel a great deal of pride in the profession that I’m just about to join.

But what do I do next? To be honest, I don’t know. As the government began to ramp up it’s plans to tackle the outbreak, we started to hear various rumours. We heard we’d be volunteering in the hospitals, some told us this would be unpaid as medical students, others told us that we’d be registered early as doctors and begin paid work as F1’s. It now seems that both options are true, with each of us deciding how we want to use these last few months before starting work. Part of me wants to make the most of this free time before real life begins, part of me wants to join work as soon as I can to help whilst help is most needed.

With all the uncertainty surrounding what will happen for us as medical students, it’s more important than ever we come together to share what we have each been told, raise our concerns and questions over starting FY1 early and support one another during this difficult time.

I’m helping organise a national twitter chat this Sunday 29th March at 18:00 GMT. We’re bringing together students, doctors, academics and key organisations such as the GMC. Find out more here

You can join using the hashtags:

#MedStudentCovid and #BecomingaDr  

Twitter link here

Facebook event here

Feel free to email any questions or thoughts to or in advance of the chat on Sunday.

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Elliot is a St George’s graduate currently working as an F1 Doctor in East London. As the first in his family to apply to university, Elliot is well aware of the barriers that can be faced in trying to get to medical school. He is passionate about widening access to medicine for underrepresented groups.
 He was the representative for St George’s on the BMA Medical Students Committee, and has done lots of work with local schools and colleges to raise awareness of medicine as a career, as well as working on admissions policies with the widening participation team St George’s. Elliot is part of the @BecomingaDr outreach team and National Health Careers Conference Team.