The health care system in the United States remains in crisis due to the continued spread of COVID-19. Many states still face shortages of PPE, and health care workers are choosing to leave their jobs due to fear of the virus and inadequate supplies to properly address it. And yet, we must continue the critical work of contact tracing and testing while simultaneously meeting other primary and mental health needs of millions of Americans. Thousands of students across the health professions will have an opportunity to answer that call through a new initiative called Students Assist America, spearheaded by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
" I started volunteering with MRC in 2018 as a new student of public health, and they make it very easy. They are very organized. After COVID, it has exceeded my expectations and I love working with students from other health fields."
~ Sarah Work, Virginia Tech MPH Graduate 2020
Medical students and students from a variety of other health professions are being deployed in safe, clinically appropriate ways to ensure the nation’s health care system continues to function during this unprecedented pandemic. Future physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, dental professionals, public health experts, optometrists, pharmacists and psychologists have joined together as an interdisciplinary safety net to ensure that the weight of the COVID-19 emergency does not crush the daily operations of the health care system and put individuals and communities at further risk.
The goal of Students Assist America is two-fold: 1) create meaningful opportunities for students with valuable skills and knowledge to help during this pandemic, and 2) enable students to continue moving forward on their educational path while traditional methods of learning are disrupted. Students are only assigned to settings where patient safety and their own personal health can be assured with proper supervision, PPE and the use of remote technologies.
A flagship approach has recently launched in Virginia through a partnership between Students Assist America and the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. Responding to the request by Governor Ralph Northam to bring students into the fight against the pandemic, academic institutions across the state will be working to ensure their students have the opportunity to help their communities now, during vaccination efforts, and well into the future once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
For more information on the Students Assist America mobilization, please contact Virginia Bader at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine at firstname.lastname@example.org.