Indian Medical Students and COVID-19 Pandemic: A Web-based Study to Explore the Untapped Potential
Background: As the countries gear up for nationwide surge in patients from the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping health manpower standby is the need of the hour. Several governments have alluded that the eagerness and passion of medical students could be tapped to fill in crucial gaps in health manpower and relieve burden on health-care professionals. Indeed, their involvement has been done in other developed countries such as UK, Australia, and New Zealand and the same could be applied in India. Aims and Objectives: The aim of the study was to study the willingness of medical students (1st year to final year MBBS) to participate in COVID-19, and understand the various roles that could be played by them in the pandemic. Materials and Methods: A total of 565 medical students (1st year to final year MBBS) of more than 30 states participated in the web-based survey. A 32-point pretested, semi-structured questionnaire designed using Google forms was used to collect information. The form included three sections General Information about study participants, the information seeking behavior for COVID, and the willingness to volunteer for a role in COVID pandemic such as patient care, IEC awareness, research, community, and contact tracing teams. Results: It has been found that up to 90% medical students are eager to work as volunteers in various roles in the pandemic. The various roles in which their skills could be utilized are in spread of IEC/awareness in the community, patient care, COVID-related research activities, psychological counseling of the patients or inmates at isolation centers, and part of the rapid response teams for house-to house contact tracing or as a part of health/hospital management teams (Help desk, Helpline numbers, etc.). Conclusion: Policy guidelines to harness the untapped potential of undergraduates are the need of the hour. It will go a long way in preparing them for future pandemics as well as ease the undue strain on health manpower in the country.
Key words: COVID-19, medical students, pandemic, role
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