Author: Andreas Paparousopoulos
About the Author: Andreas is an undergraduate student at Queens College. He has an interest in both the humanities and science and loves when the two mix.
With the arrival of an unforeseen global pandemic, many students are struggling in and out of school. Classes have been moved online, internships and volunteer opportunities have either been canceled or moved online, and the general stress of the pandemic has caused the wait times for many mental health counseling services offered by universities (which have also been moved online) to extend. While the effects of this pandemic have been felt by everyone, it has been particularly damaging to more disadvantaged and lower classes of people, a number which has grown by over 8 million since the start of this pandemic.
One can imagine the struggle a disadvantaged student must endure as they feel their stressful burdens become heavier with the pandemic. This will hurt low-income students who wish to enter into the medical field in particular, as clinical experience has become difficult to obtain. From being a nurse to getting into medical school, one will most likely not be accepted unless one has shown that they know and are ready for what the average clinical setting will throw at them. Clinical experience is needed by almost every medical profession and school. However, to obtain this experience one will most likely be in the presence of patients who may have COVID-19. This is only worsened by the fact that a majority of young adults now live with their parents which means not only are they putting their own health at risk, but their family’s, in order to pursue their career. This is only worsened by the fact that a large portion of low and middle-income households report having a family member with preexisting conditions, something that would make catching COVID-19 even more deadly.
As COVID-19 instills fear of spreading the disease to loved ones, many students are reluctant to go into the clinical world and put their families at risk. Traditional methods of obtaining clinical experience do not seem to be a viable option for many. With the focus of supporting family over long-term career prospects, it seems as if the socioeconomic diversity gap will only seem to increase in medicine, most likely furthering many of the issues we see in medicine today that are caused by a lack of diversity. We see the already existing issues in medicine not increase due to the choice of many low-income students, but by pure circumstance.
Due to the circumstances, this virus has brought, why not do what many schools, workplaces, and offices have done and brought clinical volunteering online? This is what many have been doing, most notably www.prehealthshadowing.com. Online clinical shadowing is a way to bring medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, and researchers to students in need of clinical experience. This is all done completely online for free, something akin to a blessing for many low-income individuals. These classes contain real clinical cases that medical professionals see on a day-to-day basis and advice from medical professionals to many who wish to pursue medicine as a career. This is an invaluable resource to those who are interested in health but cannot receive the proper experience due to the current situation. There is one aspect that separates www. pre-health shadowing.com from many other online shadowing programs; every Zoom recording is saved and is available for clinical certification for an unlimited period of time. This may not seem important to many, but many low-income individuals lack access to a computer at home or need to use public wifi in order to connect online. The reality is that many low-income students cannot connect on a set Zoom time as they may not have access to a reliable device, or internet connection. With recordings being available and the ability to take a certifiable online test, students can obtain verifiable shadowing hours. Although certain connectivity issues may arise while watching these recordings, they can always return to them at a later time when they have access to better connectivity or to a device that can play these recordings. Having access to every recording is one of the best ways an organization can assure that every student, low-income or not, will be able to get the shadowing hours they desire.
There are many systemic issues that have only worsened with the pandemic. However, the team at www.pre-health shadowing.com has found a way to tackle one of the issues that have plagued low-income individuals. Having online shadowing and the recordings from said shadowing sessions not only helps said low-income individuals, but it also helps the world around us by lessening the diversity gap in medicine and helping mend some of the issues that are brought with it.