Dear YSM Students:
Just 10 days ago, in my first memo about our approach to COVID-19, I stated that students on clinical clerkships are an essential part of our caregiving teams. I, the clinical chairs, and your medical education leadership believe this to our core. Students track down data and identify the medical literature pertinent to the care of a patient, often educating attendings and residents alike. They may make discoveries in taking a history that others have overlooked. Over the years, medical students have cared for patients with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza, hepatitis, and HIV. Thus, it seemed plausible and important that our students should take care of patients infected with COVID-19.
Over the last few days, however, we have faced an unprecedented situation. The need to increase bed capacity has caused us to reduce the number of procedures being performed by postponing them. Preservation of supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) has led us to limit the number of people in direct contact with patients. The ultimate consequence is that our ability to provide you with meaningful educational experiences during your clerkships has been eroded.
For this reason, and based on the advice of medical education leaders, including the clerkship directors, Deputy Dean Belitsky and I have decided to suspend clerkships and electives for a period of eight weeks. Sub-internships will continue. This will take effect immediately.
The plan is for clerkship students to use these eight weeks to prepare for and take USMLE Step 1. Dean Belitsky and his team will provide the details. In addition, if you are on campus and would like to volunteer to man the hotline or provide other remote assistance, please contact the Office of Education.
I deeply regret that we have had to make this decision. But I remain confident in our ability to provide you with an exceptional educational environment, and will continue to rely on the creativity and dedication of our faculty and staff to help us adapt to the ever changing COVID-19 landscape and to meet the challenges that it presents to our patients and our school.
Nancy J. Brown, MD
Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine
C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine