Medical Sciences students help with COVID-19 screening

Two Brock University students have taken their health training to the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical Sciences students Kate Scully and Sarah Trudel are completing the final semester of their undergraduate studies while also offering much-needed support and expertise in their home communities.

Scully has become the administrative co-ordinator for the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Midland, Ont., where she said her studies and Brock’s two-year Interprofessional Education for Quality Improvement Program (I-EQUIP) — where students work on projects with local health-related organizations — have prepared her to assist local health-care professionals by screening potential patients on the phone.

“I believe as a future physician and employee of the health-care system that it is my duty to support our frontline staff who are helping patients every day, especially in times like these when everyone else needs to stay home,” said Scully. “These individuals were there for me when I first started as a student at the hospital, so I want to help them as best I can so that they can help our community.”

As an aspiring nurse practitioner, Trudel felt a similar pull to provide necessary assistance and has put her studies and I-EQUIP training to work as a screening clerk at a long-term care home in Beaverton, Ont., where she said the need to maintain resident safety in a facility that has no cases of COVID-19 is paramount.

“It is important that everyone who walks through the doors of the nursing home is screened — staff and visitors alike — to ensure that the patients are safe,” she said. “By screening everyone entering care homes, we reduce the burden of the COVID-19 virus on the health-care system as a whole and ensure our residents are receiving the very best care.”

Having begun the transition from student life to the workforce, both students said their time working on I-EQUIP projects about patients’ experiences in health-care settings have eased the changeover.

“My project helped me think of all the ways a patient needs to be seen and not just as a timeslot in a calendar,” said Scully. “Patients mostly want reassurance that everything is going to be okay, and I need to be compassionate when communicating that to them.”

To add to the hefty responsibilities the duo now carries during the day, there are also assignments to finish from classes that are now online.

“I use a calendar to make sure I know when deadlines are, and when I am not at work, I am completing upcoming assignments,” said Trudel. “It helps that all my classes are online because now I can be flexible and work around my work schedule to view lectures, complete quizzes and write papers.”

I-EQUIP Director and Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Madelyn Law said the students’ commitment to helping in whatever way they can is inspiring.

“Our Brock students never cease to amaze me,” said Law. “I am proud and inspired to see them engage in their local communities to support health organizations at this difficult time. It’s a moving reminder of the importance of what we teach, in person or online, and the many ways students use that knowledge to impact the lives of those around them.”

While screening continues at the care facility, Trudel knows her contribution is already making a difference to those in need.

“Hearing the residents say how much safer they feel means that what we are doing is working,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Scully hopes students and other members of the Brock community will help fight COVID-19 with two key actions.

“Check in with your local hospitals, because they always need more screeners,” she said. “For everyone else in a non-essential role, please stay home so we are able to help as many people as possible.”

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