COVID-19 - A Third Year Medical Student View
COVID: A Third Year View
Uju Momah, MS3, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
As a third-year medical student interested in anesthesia, when I was on my clerkships or my anesthesia elective, I looked for opportunities to help with conducting pre-surgical evaluations, perform regional ultrasounds and nerve blocks, and assist with epidurals. Through such experiences I quickly came to appreciate the dynamic work that anesthesiologist do. I found immense satisfaction and gratification in performing procedures that have instantaneous effects on patient comfort. From the immunocompromised patient with a dehisced colostomy, to the cancer patient with a recurrent abdominal desmoid abscess, to the child with a rare disseminated fungal infection, their surgeries and stories have taught me about so much about what it means to be an anesthesiologist. Having the chance to see such patients in their most vulnerable state and help provide acute care and interventions has been humbling, gratifying, and inspiring. Beyond this, these experiences gave me a better appreciation for the features of the perioperative surgical home and the integral role anesthesiologists play in the enhanced recovery after surgery model. By working with providers to assess surgical patients pre-operatively, reviewing intra-operative workflow and educating patients and caretakers about post-discharge care, I better understand the role of the anesthesiologist in patient care. Now, entering my fourth year, the culmination of the aforementioned experiences inform the type of anesthesiologist that I aspire to be: dedicated to my patients and continually committed to enhancing my knowledge for the betterment of patient care.
These sentiments have recently grown to bear more weight now more than ever. With the recent development of the COVID pandemic, clinical rotations have been put on hold for many medical students across the country and classes have been transitioned to virtual platforms. While such decisions have been made with patient care at the priority, it has been challenging as a student to switch to virtual learning, when so much of medical education relies heavily on working directly with patients. Some of the diseases I have learned the most about, their respective workups and their treatments, I remember so vividly largely because I can associate them directly with a patient presentation or encounter.
Nonetheless, what is most important at this time is finding innovative ways to learn so that as a student I can continue to advance my medical knowledge and be prepared for return to the clinical environment. For me this has meant a few different things. Below are my suggestions:
1) Designing my own virtual anesthesia elective utilizing materials graciously made available by the ASA: the ASA has some great modules available online! From neuromuscular blockades to postoperative delirium, there are modules on a wide array of topics that are sure to peak your interest and teach you something new.
2) Joining ASA Town Halls and Webinars, particularly those that are COVID related: to date the ASA has released several live webinars and provided access to their recordings after the fact. Ranging from repurposing anesthesia gas machines to neuroanesthesia issues in COVID (most recently), these webinars are a great resource to learn about issues at the forefront of the field and understand how anesthesiologists are equipping themselves to tackle them.
3) Seeking out remote opportunities to be involved with case reports and clinical research: This is the perfect time to get involved in projects that will supplement textbook reading. While so much of anesthesia is hands on, there is an opportunity to learn about a unique patient presentation or answer a new research question. Such endeavors will undoubtedly have clinical applications upon return to clerkships.
In the era of COVID, approaches to medical education have been forced to change and as a medical student I need to adapt with them. I look forward to rejoining the ranks in the clinical environment, whenever that may be. In the meantime, I will continue to take steps to improve my clinical knowledge and prepare to support patient care.
Posted May 28, 2020