Most University students will be returning to their families. Despite placement and exam cancellations, fourth year medical student, Lily Scourfield, a fourth year medical student, made the difficult decision to stay away from home and has found valuable ways to contribute.
This time a week ago I was on my Psychiatry placement – gearing up for what I thought would be the toughest 8 weeks revising for my final ISCE (practical clinical examination of patients) which was scheduled in May.
The next 8 weeks and beyond are still likely to be tough but for entirely different reasons. As practical exams, such as ISCEs, cannot be completed online – our finals are postponed. It’s like the anti-climactic feeling after a big exam when you’re lost as what to do, but without the sense of achievement of having completed it.
I am grateful that I was signed off from my psychiatry placement on Monday. All further placements are cancelled.
I chose to go to university in Cardiff to be close to my mum, who is a cancer patient. She takes a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which means she is immunosuppressed and falls into the ‘shielding’ group. Two weeks ago, I made the difficult decision to avoid going home as I usually do on a weekly basis. I miss my family a lot, but I know it’s the right thing to do to protect them. Some students have gone home to be with their families, but of course many of us won’t be able to do that.
"I miss my family a lot, but I know it’s the right thing to do to protect them."
There’s a lovely sense of community amongst my friends staying at university. Before socialising between households was prohibited, I was lucky go for jogs with my friend and have dinner with some medics who live on my street. Now we check in on each other over video calls.
Valuing the time out
It’s not all bad, however. I almost feel guilty saying that short-term, I feel grateful for slowing down a bit – I was very close to burnout a few weeks ago. I’m taking the time to look after myself, reconnect with friends (virtually, of course), get back into running and do some delicious cooking which I would never normally have the time to do.
Since the outbreak I feel helpless at times – seeing news stories of staffing crises makes me want to be in the clinical environment to help. I have been invited to work on a rapid evidence synthesis for COVID-19 clinical trials in the elderly, which will be submitted to Age and Ageing next week.
The most difficult thing about all this is we don’t know how long it will be for; I’m so used to planning and being busy. Having uncertainty makes this very difficult.
One thing that has helped me overcome this uncertainty is noting each day three things that I am grateful for. I would recommend this as a way to look for positives in a trying situation.
4th Year Medical Student
The British Student Doctor Journal is starting a new series of articles to share the stories of healthcare workers and students tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.