Medical students are struggling to find the hospital placements vital to their training because of the Coronavirus lockdown.
Throughout their time at university, medical students participate in 5-6 weeks of placements in hospitals and, as expected, there have been some alterations to how these will take place, how their placement will be different and if they will be even going on placement at all.
Anna Lloyd is a second-year student at Salford University.
She was due to start her placement at the end of March in occupational therapy community mental health however due to the coronavirus outbreak the placement was called off and is cancelled until further notice.
Originally the university informed their course that their attendance in placement was crucial in getting the pandemic under control.
But with the recent progression of the virus, the placement was delayed as the current providers are unable to support students at this time due to the increasing pressure on the NHS.
Anna was also informed that this will have a detrimental effect on her progression on the course as well as her graduation as she has to have a certain number of clinical hours to qualify.
“I think the university has done their best with keeping us updated with what’s happening.
“However, it has been a very anxious time for us students.
“We have had high levels of support from our personal tutors and course leader to help us deal with the anxieties and uncertainties during this time.”
There will undoubtedly be challenges as we learn more about the impact of this pandemic. Those of you in health placements will witness the inspiring people who are our NHS, in action. The same is true for all of our social work, education, and community partners. #GMPride
— UoS Health & Society (@UoS_HealthSoc) March 15, 2020
Although some placements have been cancelled, others have carried on throughout the pandemic.
A physiotherapy student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was on placement when the outbreak first started within the UK.
The student was informed by the placement provider to remain on placement and to take extra precautions such as hand washing.
It was made extremely clear that if the students begin to develop any symptoms that they must not come into work and should begin the self-isolation process.
The virus has affected the placement for the physiotherapy student as elective surgeries have been canceled and therefore heavily reducing the number of patients that they have to see.
This results in students receiving less clinical experience and due to the lack of patients, they haven’t benefitted as well as they could have.
As well as this many outpatient physiotherapy departments have also closed, meaning students in those departments have also had no face-to-face appointments, having to complete appointments over the phone instead.
“The hospital has been much quieter since the pandemic broke out for obvious reasons but besides taking extra safety precautions, the way in which we approach our work hasn’t changed.
“I think its important to focus on the job and trying to not allow the virus to affect our placement experience.”
Lauren Duncan, a second-year student at The University of Salford, carried out her placement in March on the angio suite.
While on placement Lauren noticed that the hospital had changed a lot since the outbreak occurred with loads of staff being off due to the virus.
This has led to wards that are already understaffed struggling even more.
With a wide shortage of PPE as well and the guidance of caring for these patients, it makes the working environment even more stressful and unsettling.
When lockdown occurred Lauren was still at her university accommodation and was still living with her fellow flatmates, “a few of my flatmates haven’t gone home and are still here so I’m doing my best to keep away from them so if I do become a carrier, they aren’t likely to get it.
“It’s been hard because working within the NHS causes a lot of stress and you need support from friends and family.”
In recent weeks, universities have offered students who were meant to be taking part in placement to opt-in.
The opt-in programme offers students the option to opt into being placed somewhere temporarily and get paid instead of carrying out their placement or not having a placement to participate in.
To read more on how the pandemic is affecting the Salford Area, visit Salford Now