COVIDAssist: Exploring the perspectives on student assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
InciSioN UK Collaborative None., Royal Society of Medicine Students Section Collaborative None., MedEd Collaborative None.
INTRODUCTION: COVID-19 resulted in medical students volunteering to join the health care workforce. Our study aimed to evaluate the perception of clinical staff on the benefit of students' pandemic response. The secondary aims were to (i) evaluate medical students' team working skills, (ii) identify specialties where medical students were most effective, and (iii) identify areas for further training. METHODS: We conducted a national survey of doctors and nurses. This was conducted in line with a pre-specified protocol by the International Student Surgical Network UK (Incision UK), with support from The Royal Society of Medicine Students Section Collaborative and MedEd Collaborative. A questionnaire was developed and disseminated following AMEE guidance. Survey responses were quantitatively and qualitatively analysed. RESULTS: Of the recorded responses (n = 283), the largest group of respondents was junior doctors, (n = 110, 38.9%), and medicine was the most reported specialty (n = 76, 26.9%) of respondents, followed by primary care, with the lowest responses coming from surgery (n = 25, 8.8%). Of the total responses (n = 283), 76.8% of respondents reported that the student response had a positive impact during the pandemic. Four themes were identified: (i) impact on health care service, (ii) impact on health care staff and patients, (iii) student's professional development and (iv) additional training that students require. CONCLUSION: Students were an effective part of the pandemic. However, without appropriate definition of their role within a clinical setting, students may be forced to balance learning and service provision. Providing students with dedicated clinical support roles and ward-based learning roles with a competency-based approach holds potential to be both a powerful learning tool and strengthen health care systems to face future crises.