Stories from the AAMC Action community

‘We lost Match Day, graduation, and countless other formal and informal celebrations that mark the transition from medical student to resident, but we graduated early to help our city in its time of need. I’ve never been more proud of my choice to become a physician.’ -- Randy C.

"My onsite rotations were paused so a few students and I started an organization that supports hospitals and frontline workers with childcare, pet sitting, running errands, virtual tutoring, and collecting supplies and PPE donations. Our organization then helped other states start their own.

It is heart-warming to be able to support our mentors nurses and everyone working on frontlines during the crisis. We are all in this together and we've got your back."

— Sarah A.


"First-year medical students at [my medical school] are not able to directly help patients at this time, but we are all getting involved in COVID-19 research to generate knowledge that could help patients worldwide. While I would love to get back to the clinic, I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute to research that could have an immediate and widespread impact."

— Maeve P.


"As first-year medical students in the middle of our pre-clinical curriculum, I think many of us felt powerless not being at a point where we could directly provide patient care. We also felt the stress of having loved ones affected by COVID-19 and uncertainty about our education and careers.

I started a virtual social calendar for our class and recruited classmates to host weekly sessions on Zoom including workout classes, book club, lunch chats, holiday celebrations, and more. Creating this social community helped to encourage classmates to destress, reflect, and share their talents with others during an otherwise stressful time."

— Jasmine


"I am working as a helicopter flight paramedic while I wait to begin medical school this fall. My team has been evacuating COVID patients from rural Midwest hospitals as the need for ICU beds becomes too great."

— Vanessa B.


"I'm a non-traditional student with 5 years of nursing experience, and I've been working part-time for the Medical ICU (which immediately became the primary COVID-19 Critical Care Unit) for almost a year. I was definitely afraid at first, but after agreeing to my first shift, I knew that I needed to make as much time as I could.

It's been an honor to be able to join my fellow health care workers in the fight, providing some relief to the full-time nurses and hopefully a caring face to the patients separated from their families in such a dire time."

— Andrew H.


"During COVID-19, I raised enough to donate 10,000 surgical masks to my local hospitals and emergency responders in light of the shortage of PPE. I also delivered groceries to the elderly, who did not have the resources to buy food or have food delivered during shelter-in-place."

— Rachel A.


"The orthopedic surgery residents at my hospital in New York City formed a prone positioning team. Over the past 3 months, we have prone positioned hundreds of intubated patients to help improve lung oxygenation and unburden the ICU staff."

— Robert Z.


"Training in emergency medicine, we tend to expect the unexpected. We push forward while others may move back. While no one could have expected what was to come, and although it's a very scary time to practice emergency medicine, this is exactly WHY we chose emergency medicine.

It is an honor and privilege to be at the front lines with all my amazing coworkers and be able to be the people looked upon in someone's darkest hour during these unprecedented times!"

— Scott G.

‘As a mom, wife, and physician, I struggled with what was right for me, for my patients, and for my family. Of course I wanted to protect my family above all else, but I also felt a responsibility to do right by my patients. At the end of the day, I decided that fighting the virus and helping as many patients as I could was my way of showing my family that one person can make a difference, even when it seems that there is little hope.’ -- Kathryn H.

"As pediatric residents, we have been largely sheltered from the direct consequences of the pandemic. The pediatric clinics and wards were eerily quiet throughout March and April.

Then, during an ER rotation in May, I started seeing these kids with histories of colds a couple weeks back presenting with a vague constellation of findings. Usually rash, fever, diarrhea and hypotension. Less than one week into my ER rotation, I had admitted 4 kids with the multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19."

— Nicole A.


"I’ve come to realize that those around me, the health care workers that work day in and day out, do it because they believe in a common goal and are driven by a purpose. That purpose is to bring hope when it may not exist, be present and support the communities in which they reside and ultimately uphold their commitment to the Hippocratic Oath.

Through volunteer efforts in gathering PPE, spearheading innovation and getting involved in research, I was able to support those at the front lines as a third-year medical student. It is in times like these I am humbled to be part of this cohort of individuals."

— Faizah S.


"I work in a medical research laboratory and our lab has increased our productivity in this crisis. In addition to our previous projects, the group is taking on a number of COVID-related projects to further understanding of the disease and its pathologenesis. I was inspired by my mentor when he said: 'what we need now is more and better science, not less and worse science.'"

— Danae


"My recent scientific exploration includes examining an RNA Protocol in response to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. As an independent researcher in the broad sciences, continued research is of utmost priority to ward off disease. Of the countless stories of tragedy will emerge equally important stories of triumph through thoughtful examination, research, and clinical trials which will lead to an eventual cure. As a leader in science, it goes without saying that breakthroughs will take time and hard work.

I am hopeful that as a scholar I will be able to share some insight through research. Further, colleagues, fellows, and medical professionals like myself on the front lines are overcoming adversity, constraints, as well as the unknown, sharing our skills, knowledge, and abilities to triumph in the face of tragedy."

— Drusilla J.


"After going through the stress of switching from an orthopedic surgery residency to anesthesia, I was introduced to a new hurdle in my training. The coronavirus pandemic. Although it was difficult at times to maintain optimism during three straight months of ICU rotations, the privilege to help care for members of our community during a national emergency was a rewarding and educational experience that I will treasure forever."

— Adam L.


"I am entering my final year of medical school. Due to the pandemic, many students such as myself were pulled from clinical clerkships and moved to online schooling. To do my part and give back to the community during this time, I created a medical nonprofit organization with the help of my brothers and other medical students across the nation.

Our current project deals with creating homemade cloth masks and donating dry foods and gloves to homeless shelters across the nation. We started in San Francisco but have since expanded to include New York and Seattle homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations.

To date, we have created over 2,100 masks and donated over 5,400 gloves to over 17 different homeless/nonprofit shelters across the country."

— Farham H.


"Earlier this year, as the world was in what seemed to be a never-ending whirlwind, third- and fourth-year medical students stepped up to the plate. As the media highlighted the health care disparities in the African American community, I knew lending a hand at what was then the only COVID-19 testing hospital in the southside of Chicago was the right move for me.

I learned vital information from the ED team at [the hospital where I worked], and was able to experience key ED procedures such as rapid sequence intubation and starting an IV line, just to name a few. The pandemic did cause a lack of conventional teaching points due to the urgency of some patients, which is completely understandable as COVID-19 is a disease that is not yet 100% understood.

Overall it was a stupendous experience and I'd be thrilled to help out again."

— Crystal R.


"I am a fourth-year medical student and leader of our school's student volunteer group, the "COVID-19 Student WorkForce." Our active phase lasted 9 weeks, and we collectively contributed over 25,000 hours to our hospital system. Despite the fact that our clerkships were suspended, it is amazing to see the work we did — we volunteered in areas totally outside of our comfort zones, everywhere from hospital pharmacies, to materials management and PPE distribution, to even assembling and operationalizing ventilators.

Don't forget about the medical students! Even though we are in the early stages of our medical training, we are ready to contribute and learn however we can."

— Rohini B.


"As a surgery resident, I've had critical care training, but being deployed to one of the makeshift COVID ICUs felt outside of my wheelhouse. I've been trained to operate to fix a problem, but surgery wasn't going to help my COVID patients and really there wasn't a lot medicine could do for them either. That's why I made it one of my jobs to call and update the patient families daily, sometimes hourly. It can get busy and tough to find time to do that, but it felt like the most tangible and direct thing I could do to help."

— Michelle K.


"As a paramedic during a pandemic, we have seen the strain of our healthcare system and the importance of protection for our fellow emergency medical technicians. Not too long ago, we transported a fellow paramedic who got diagnosed with COVID-19.

As I sat in the back of the unit with him during our transport, he told me about his experience as best he could through a high flow nonrebreather. He told me about the fever and body aches. The low oxygen saturation. I asked what we could do. He said, 'Watch out for yourself and your partner. Hold the line'. I will do just that while I study to become a physician."

— Gabriel Y.

'Being a Black medical student has always been both rewarding & extremely challenging. COVID-19 has opened my eyes, and hopefully others' as well, to the enormous amount of work that still needs to be put in to truly make a difference in the world we live in. I look forward, now more than ever, to doing my part in making that difference.' - Callyn S.

"I haven't been able to help out on the front lines, so I focus on prevention in the community and the support of our caregivers. I advocated for PPE by writing my senators and offered assistance to hospital workers and their families.

Since the emergency declaration, I have volunteered over 450 hours with the American Red Cross, working blood drives, checking up on the wellness of other volunteers, and responding to emergencies. I've also made supply runs for residents of assisted living facilities, dropped off rent checks, and completed medication drop-offs.

I've been volunteering with the Foundation for Senior Care; delivering groceries, sewing masks, and doing wellness calls to the elderly. Isolation is taking a toll, so being able to help seniors socialize while remaining self-quarantined has been extremely fulfilling. It's kept me engaged and renewed my passion for giving back. I'm grateful to be a part of the solution, even if it's not in the role of a doctor yet."

— Eriana F.


"As a scrub technician, we are in constant contact with patients who have the possibility of transmitting COVID. That does not stop us from doing our job any less. The acknowledgement we receive from patients, along with the reassurance that we do our best to care for these dialysis patients makes the fight even more worthwhile."

— Kevin H.


"I graduated college in May 2019, started working as a Patient Care Tech in December 2019 and by March 2020, I was caring directly for patients with COVID. I wanted hands-on experience for medical school, and I am getting that and so much more in an unbelievable way."

— Daryle H.


"I’m an MD candidate in Oregon who started a childcare program for essential healthcare workers, which has provided childcare to over 200 health care families. I started the program 30 minutes after I found out that our classes were canceled and recruited over 400 volunteers."

— Emily L.


"Suddenly, in the space of only a day or two, we were all plunged into a sea of uncertainty. But instead of drowning in all this fear and uncontrollability, my courageous colleagues rose up, showed up, and took care of patients and of one another."

— Heidi A.


"I have been doing street outreach for the unhoused population in our city, handing out food and PPE but also gaining their trust enough to start helping them with wound care and other small medical issues. I have the opportunity to be a light to those impacted most by this pandemic, and to start mending relationships soiled by years of abuse within the medical system."

— Thomas H.


"I received an email about my acceptance to medical school while working as a research coordinator on the COVID-19 clinical trials. I became an essential worker, walking up and down the ICUs trying to active screen, enroll, and recruit patients onto potentially life-saving therapies.

I never realized how critical research was to this cause, but I have an ever-greater appreciation for being a part of it, and I will take these lessons with me as I embark on my career in medicine."

— Deelan A.


"I'm a pediatric intern at Yale. I had no idea that part of my pediatrics residency would include taking care of 'Comfort Measures Only' COVID-positive adults to help our medicine colleagues with the high census at our hospital. A majority of the time, our job as pediatric residents is to take care of healthy kids who get sick and then get better.

A few weeks ago on the adult COVID unit we were learning how to have goals of care discussions with families and helping elderly patients die with dignity. We experienced one particularly awful afternoon where five patients died in our unit, one after the other, and my co-residents, the nurses, and the attendings were helping family members say good-bye over Zoom on iPads. One patient made it to her 85th birthday and got to hear all of her children sing happy birthday to her over zoom — she died later that morning.

One of the most inspiring parts of this experience was seeing our incredibly skilled pediatric nurses bring the 'pediatric flavor' to the care of their adult patients, by being experts in compassion, communication, and advocating for their patients."

— Lyubina Y.

'I contracted COVID-19 and was briefly hospitalized in my place of work. My colleagues became my caregivers. And I very quickly went back to work treating patients in the same beds I was hospitalized in. I'm still processing everything, but I feel these trying times have brought out the best in us. I am continually amazed and inspired by the perseverance and dedication of my colleagues.' -- Laura S.

Still have a story to tell? We want to hear it! Take a moment to share, in a few sentences, what your experience has been during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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