The health care system in the United States is in crisis due to the spread of the COVID-19. Shortages of equipment, supplies and personnel are devastating hospitals. As the disease hits more and more people across the nation, the number of fatalities is climbing exponentially. And yet, the non-COVID 19-related health care needs of millions of Americans still need to be met. Thousands of students across the health professions will have an opportunity to answer that call through a new initiative spearheaded by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
Medical students and students from a variety of other health professions are being deployed in safe, clinically appropriate ways to help the nation’s health care system continue to function during this unprecedented pandemic. With a focus on students who have completed the majority or all of their clinical education, future physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, public health experts and others 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.
Students will only be assigned to health care settings where patient safety and their own personal health can be assured with proper supervision and the use of remote technologies. Working with institutions such as local hospitals, Departments of Health and Medical Reserve Corps units, these students will supplement the public health network to address the COVID response, and provide care matched to their education level and expertise. Core services could include chronic disease management; screenings; wound care; telehealth visits; mental health support and other assistance depending on the state and local need. The goal is to protect the public health by relieving the burden on medical staff who must focus on the specialized treatment for acute respiratory illness associated with COVID-19.
A model approach enabled by the Students Assist America collaboration recently launched in Ohio. Through a joint effort of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Ohio Department of Health, and with implementation help from the Ohio National Guard, the Ohio Medical Reserve Corps, the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Ohio Association of Health Commissioners, the college’s entire 3rd year class of 250 students will deploy to local health agencies starting April 13.
In virtual class and online settings, students will receive immediate training in key areas such as general knowledge of COVID-19, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, quarantine, social distancing, and public health topics such as clinician wellness, epidemic preparedness, messaging and containment.
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.