In The Thick of It
Lauren Muldowney, our NUIG Student Intern, is currently studying Medicine and in the midst of Covid-19, is facing an environmentthat not many medical students before her had to face. In this article, Lauren goes through the challenges and opportunities that her work placement offers during these exceptional times
Studying Medicine during a pandemic has naturally had its challenges. When Covid-19 first hit, students were taken off the wards and final year students graduated early to start working in hospitals. Universities have now adapted to allow us to continue our studies and meet our learning goals. Currently, as a fourth year student my days consist of a mix of clinical placement and online tutorials. We rely heavily on the generosity of patients to let us hear their stories and practice our skills and we have never been more grateful for the opportunity to be in the clinical environment.
The biggest challenge I can identify is that there’s often a logistical difficulty in combining a day of in-person experience with scheduled online teaching. With current restrictions, study spaces aren’t always available for us at the hospital and so this often means racing home after a clinic to be ready to attend my tutorials from my bedroom!
Aside from this, I’ve found studying Medicine online to be as engaging as it was pre-pandemic. I’m in my clinical years of study which means my coursework is particularly directed towards problem solving and working through a case to arrive at a diagnosis and management plan. As someone who found the large lecture setup quite distracting, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to focus during online teaching. Module delivery can vary. Some disciplines prefer pre-recorded lectures, while others use solely synchronous tutorials.
For the most part, we use our VLE to attend synchronous sessions which require everyone to participate. Before the pandemic, tutorials often involved students preparing a presentation that we would then discuss afterwards. In some cases, this has been translated to an online format where students are told in advance a topic to prepare and then upload and present their slides as a group during the session. We also participate by answering questions by microphone and using the chat or by joining breakout rooms to discuss specific questions. Online delivery means we can watch pre-briefing videos in our own time before we go into clinical skills sessions, minimising the time we need to spend face-to-face. While it has its challenges, learning online has given me more flexibility with my schedule and lots of opportunities for collaboration with my classmates.
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