As soon as we got the email that we were pulled out of clinical duties, I was surprised. Even though the coronavirus had been declared as a pandemic, I didn’t think it would get that bad. Canada was not as affected at the time. However, I remember speaking to my staff at the time who wondered why I was still here. She was a medical student during the SARS epidemic and was similarly taken out of clinical duties. At that moment, 2 parallel thoughts were running through my mind. On one hand, I wanted to stay and learn but on the other, was I just a burden to the team and slowing them down?
There was a lot of uncertainty associated with this situation and little did I know this is something that carried throughout the coming months. As not much was known at the time, we initially thought it would be a maximum of 2 weeks off clinical duties while they sorted things out. However, it ended up becoming a 3-month pause in clinical duties as the whole country was in lockdown. For a student who is already in a condensed program, without summers, to have a 3 months hiatus from clinical duties seemed daunting. I worried I would lose the clinical skills I had gained in the interim. However, I am grateful that my medical school set out a plan for 3 months that meticulously included live lectures given by experts virtually and multiple modules and learning resources to further our knowledge. They tried their best to get us as close to the clinical environment in whatever way possible.
I wanted to reflect on some of these experiences over the next couple of posts and also provide some tips and tricks to stay motivated as most academic institutions have moved to remote and online learning. In the last post, I wanted to reflect on virtual medical care and some ways I learned to show empathy via a laptop screen.