Medical Studies During COVID-19: How the Pandemic Affects this Generation of Doctors-to-be

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This article was written by one of our passionate readers, Ms. Gabriela Soares Amaral, a Brazilian, 23 years old, third year medical student in Würzburg, Germany. The opinions expressed within reflect only the writer’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue.

Every medical student had its own path before reaching medical school, but one thing is practically a constant: the months or even years until getting accepted into the course were like the storm before the rainbow. We study, prepare ourselves, imagine the moment we are going to have the first anatomy classes, and, suddenly, the dream comes true: we buy our first stethoscope – or receive it as a gift, like it is tradition in my country – and even call the older uncle who is also a doctor for advices. We start the course full of experiences and expectations, go through semesters of good and bad lectures and then, as if it were a joke from life, we are in the year 2020, a pandemic without precedents hits the world and the moment we were finally going to transition from the heavy theory-filled first semesters to the practical ones is rescheduled, rescheduled, adapted and so on.  

     At first it felt like disorientation, what seemed like something far away reached us – Europe and the western world – far too soon and far too brutal, people were sent home and life as we knew stopped. Then we started seeing the numbers go up and people suffering and, to be honest, we did not feel like we had reason to complain, as the Assimilation-Contrast Theory first postulated by Sherif an Hovland tells us, one occurrence seems to cause different impressions on people when compared to others. This has barely changed since then.  But what came next? We watched the world bend the knees to researchers, physicians, nurses and other health-workers and pray for a cure. We watched our future profession colleagues fighting their fight against this invisible enemy and we felt more than ever the need to be teached, the need for knowledge, the need to advance in the studies, because we see the weight that is on their shoulders. This responsibility, to care for other people’s lives, will one day also be on our shoulders.

     Now, march 2021, we have adapted ourselves to an online-driven format that works pretty well in some professions: living-rooms were turned into conference rooms and even the mode world trends more “comfy-looks” for work, sweaters are for the first time welcome. But for us this definitely does not work, at least not alone, only as an additional. We need to look into the patient’s eyes, to be able to hear his story, to examinate him/her and repeat it if necessary. We need this to be good – or at least decent – doctors and to make the difference in the already so sterile, image-centered medicine that is made nowadays.

      The whole panorama is sad, because we still see people dying, a lot, we see a third “wave” coming with large steps towards us and we don’t get to see the patients, we don’t get to perform examinations, we get a sip of what we would have had, hasn’t the pandemic occurred. And we ask ourselves “will this be enough? Are we coming in the last year’s Rotations as raw as freshmen? “But for now, we just keep the thoughts one more time for ourselves and hold on to each other or to whatever we find that gives us hope. For now, we all need hope and, mostly, desperately, to keep safe.

About the author

Gabriela Soares Amaral is a brazilian, 23 years old, third year medical student in Würzburg, Germany. She comes from a medical doctors family and is a restless learner whose hobbies are related to music and arts in general.

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