The student voice - Undergraduate experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic
22 July 2020
When the Clinical School was forced to close its doors in March, medical students seized the opportunity to support Oxford’s effort to combat the pandemic. They volunteered in a huge variety of settings, from the university’s vaccine trial to local GP practices. Here’s what some of them have been up to…
Fifth-Year students Samuel Pace and Rosemary Freer had a very positive experience of General Practice, volunteering at 28 Beaumont Street:
“We did twice weekly telephone triage which gave us an excellent opportunity to learn via telemedicine. Also, we did weekly phlebotomy and chronic disease reviews allowing us to maintain clinical skills and learn more about long term disease management. During our time at the practice, we were encouraged to be active members of the team and were given opportunities to improve our communication skills and clinical knowledge. We are indebted to the staff at the practice: their dedication both to patient care and our education was outstanding, especially during a time of significant clinical uncertainty”.
Fifth-Year Student Susie Black spent her lockdown working at Temple Cowley Health Centre:
“I helped out as part of the team with HCA work - doing dressings and phlebotomy, as well as with daily admin. I dealt with the daily discharge documents from hospital, summarising problems and treatments for review. I feel lucky to have had the chance to work at the practice. Not only have I been able to keep in touch with medicine whilst my course was on hold, but I’ve gained clinical and teaching experience too”.
Jonathan Drake is a fifth-year student who volunteered with the Oxford vaccine trial:
“I’m lucky enough to be part of the team of students deployed to work with the Oxford Vaccine Centre’s Covid trial, which has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Our roles within the team vary each day; we help with the (mountain of) admin work, screen and consent participants, make assessments before and after vaccination and see participants at various follow-up appointments.
"Working on such a ground-breaking trial has been an incredible experience. Given the nature of the pandemic, the trial has progressed at an incredible speed, and being part of such a focused and impressive team has been inspiring. The response of the public has also been amazing, with thousands of healthcare workers and the general public volunteering to take part. It is humbling to see everyone so keen to help. As we start back up at medical school, we shall try to fit in shifts where we can, however it will be sad to not be able to work full time in the team”.
Angus McCance was one of twenty Fifth Year Students assigned to work in the Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital:
“At the end of March, having registered my interest in volunteering with Oxford University Hospitals Trust, I was assigned to work in the Emergency Department. Alongside other students, I was on the shop floor providing cover for receptionists and HCAs, monitoring stock through the department and being available for “donning and doffing” assistance. Thankfully the anticipated flood of patients never arrived making us surplus to requirements. We were moved to the ED door where we streamed patients into the newly divided department, ran errands and helped police the hospital’s “no visitor” policy. It was great to be able to feel useful through the uncertainty, to free up more qualified staff to do the difficult jobs and get plenty of Communication Skills practice along the way!”