“purposeful inaction” in a pandemic: students, lead the way!

Anytime an article has words like “purposeful inaction” in the title, you have my attention! This week, an article by Hema Pingali & Ashwini Joshi titled “Purposeful Inaction in COVID-19. A Medical Student Perspective” is posted ahead of print at ATS Scholar. It’s a quick and informative read, and like the rest of the journal, open access.

I can’t imagine the challenges felt by medical students who feel they have been obligated to sit on the sidelines, unable to contribute to patient care in ways they would like, and also suffering in terms of lost education.

Admirably, the medical students who wrote this article focused on ways they could have a positive impact without being in the hospital. Examples included preparation and dissemination of educational materials, providing assistance at home to frontline workers (childcare, groceries, etc), and calling patients to follow-up on symptoms.

Another bright spot in medical student contribution has been tireless efforts to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to people and facilities at highest need. An example organization is GetMePPE Chicago, co-founded by medical student Tricia Pendergrast. More on her impact here. Related to this work, she says: “if there’s anything I could emphasize… this was an opportunity to support our community from an approach of solidarity and not charity.”

You can donate to the organization at this link. If you know of other organizations in need, feel free to share their info in the comments.

Despite challenges to their educational opportunities and personal lives, medical students are leading the way in unexpected ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The future is bright.

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