As coronavirus patients surge, medical students rushed into practice to fight pandemic
by Kelly Cannon April 1, 2020
The United States health care system is mobilizing to triage a public health emergency that is rapidly taking members of its workforce out of the ranks.
Grim projections from the country’s leading health officials over the weekend emphasized the toll the novel coronavirus could have on the U.S. healthcare workforce, one that is buckling under a surge in demand and an inadequate supply of protective gear that is endangering the lives of front-line responders.
At a White House coronavirus task force press briefing Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is possible that 100,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. will die from the novel coronavirus.
Amid an alarming rise in cases in California where hospitalizations have doubled and ICU admissions have tripled in recent days, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched an initiative Monday aimed at increasing the ranks of the state’s health care workforce in advance of an expected surge in coronavirus patients.
“If you’re a nursing school student, a medical school student, we need you,” Gov. Newsom said at a press conference Monday.
The newly created California Health Corps will recruit health care providers, including medical students nearing completion of their studies, to address what the governor called the “human capital surge” that the state will need to ensure an adequate workforce is available to assist in the state’s pandemic response.
Medical students nationwide, just months away from becoming resident doctors, are eager to alleviate the pressure on health care professionals by joining the fight.
“There’s a large group of resilient people out there who are ready to go on the front lines and help,” said Lizzie Andrews, a fourth-year medical student at Texas A&M who will start her residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in June.
“We’ve been preparing for this for all four years and that’s what we want to do–we want to help people,” Andrews said. “That’s why we got into medicine in the first place.”