Braamfontein – Wits University seeks to get medical students to help out in required fields during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The institution’s Professor of Vaccinology Shabir Madhi says: “We are likely to see an increase in number of hospitalisation over the course of the next 3-4 weeks, and right now the focus needs to be on leveraging on our existing human and facility resources.”
Madhi adds that students do have a role to play. “But medical students cannot be fast-tracked, as this poses a greater risk in the long term. Rather those in final year could be asked to volunteer to assist,” he says.
Assistant Dean: Teaching and Learning Professor Judith Bruce says Wits has started engaging with students to have an exact tally of those who would like to volunteer.
“At the moment we are establishing who would be willing to volunteer,” she says.
The idea of having medical students volunteer in hospitals is already being implemented in Britain, where final-year students are fast-tracked, and join the workforce in time to contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Guardian reported that the Medical Schools Council (MSC) advised UK’s 42 medical schools to prioritise qualifying final-year students, regardless of them having completed their clinical exams.
The decision is to allow students to be provisionally registered by the General Medical Council (GMC) and begin working as doctors as soon as possible. The letter to the schools from the MSC’s co-chairs and chief executive stated: “It is important that medical schools do not delay qualification and so prevent new doctors joining the workforce. We suggest that finals are simplified as far as possible, consistent with testing necessary learning objectives.”