The worldwide contribution of medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: quantitative and qualitative research
Background One of the biggest concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is the extreme demand for health care workers and health systems. Medical students possess a range of skills and attributes that can help the declining workforce. This paper aims to provide an overview of the roles medical students have taken during this pandemic worldwide and provide insights to work towards establishing safe, efficient and useful roles during the progression of the pandemic. Methods A comprehensive
... mprehensive questionnaire was distributed through social media using platforms and networks that involved medical students worldwide. Analysis of the data included both quantitative and qualitative methods. Qualitative data of multiple-choice questions was done to calculate the percentage of countries in which students played a role during the pandemic, whether they were paid, and if medical education was suspended. Furthermore, we identified the different roles medical students had across the globe. Qualitative analysis was performed on blank space questions to gain more insights regarding the roles of medical students across different countries. Results 144 responses were reported from 47 countries and 81 different universities, representing all United Nations Regions. The role of medical students was most reported as providing medical assistance, namely in 61.7% of countries. Other reported roles were helplines, no role, logistical assistance, testing, baby-sitting, awareness, triage and supporting a physician at home. In 7.5% of the countries where students are performing services, it is reported these are paid services. In 45.7% (n = 37) of all universities, medical schools have been suspended with no reported (online) alternative for classes or exams. Conclusions Our results show that medical students have the capability to contribute in many different ways during this pandemic. In most cases, roles are unpaid and many reports show that there is no clarity on whether their roles will count towards their educational credits. It is crucial to develop adequate protocols and statements, so medical students can contribute to the best of their capacity and in a safe, ethical and healthy manner during the pandemic, for which additional research and collaboration between institutions is needed.