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Abstract Introduction We aimed to identify the willingness, attitudes, and practice of medical students towards volunteering in a clinical capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method We distributed a cross-sectional survey from 2/5/2020 to 14/6/2020 to all medical students at UK medical schools. Results A total of 1145 medical students from 36 medical schools completed the questionnaire. 82.7% of students were willing to volunteer, but only 34.3% had volunteered. The strongest predictors of willingness to volunteer on multiple linear regression were the beliefs that volunteering to work would benefit their medical education (estimate=0.35±0.03, adjusted P < 0.001) and that they would have a positive impact (estimate=0.33±0.03, adjusted P < 0.001). The majority of students were willing to take up a clinical role and were confident in having the necessary skills, but there was a discrepancy between the role’s students were comfortable performing and those they were assigned. Thematic analysis of the issue’s students would face when volunteering identified five themes: safety, professional practice, pressure to volunteer, finances and logistics, and education. Conclusions This study identifies areas for consideration from those responsible for workforce planning, healthcare provision, and student safety. We provide recommendations to facilitate a volunteering process that is safer for students, staff, and patients.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Surgery


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date