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Due to COVID-19 fear MBBS students are distressed over exams and residing in hostels

COVID-19 has caused an extraordinary commotion to the medical education process and healthcare systems worldwide.

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It has been more than a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most educational institutions have determined for online education rather than traditional modes of education to protect their employees and students. But the plight of MBBS students seems to be different. Amid the storming COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has issued an advisory to all the medical colleges concerning the conduct of MBBS examinations.

Via its recent notifications, the apex medical regulator has advised all medical colleges and universities to adhere to the existing norms to conduct the final MBBS (Part-I & Part-2) Theory and Practical, 2nd MBBS and Supplementary MBBS examinations.

In addition, the NMC has specified the allotment of examiners during the examination timeline. Meanwhile, concerning the practical/ clinical examinations for students appearing during the 2nd MBBS and Supplementary (1st and 2nd) exams, the NMC has directed the medical institutes to conduct the tests in the laboratories with due precautions.

However, for the conduct of practical/clinical examinations for final MBBS (Part-I & Part-2) examinees, the NMC has ordered that if there is a shortage of clinical material, the same may be replaced by case scenarios, simulations, and use of

Appropriate/relevant X-rays, CT scan, ECG, lab reports etc. Earlier, the NMC had issued an advisory to all the medical colleges concerning the conduct of final MBBS examinations.

However, due to frequent postpones in exam dates and uncertainties over medical exams, students are demanding online exams or promotion for the year without any text or assessment. They fear for their safety and wellbeing, whereas, the government is very much reluctant in taking offline exams.

Depression and stress among medical students are on rising, this exam uncertainty developing nervousness disorders in them, with significantly larger rates than the general population, even under normal circumstance. Many medical students typically encounter stressful situations including high workload, many evaluations, assessments, the pressure of the clinical environment, numerous responsibilities, anxiety regarding their grades, long hours of studying, and concerns about their future career.

Imposition of unfamiliar public health measures including social distancing and lockdown, social fear related to COVID-19, closures of universities, fear of being infected by the Coronavirus. Travelling from different states, and staying in hostels with common toilets and mess is a huge concern.

On the contrary, the sleep quality of medical students appears to have deteriorated during the pandemic, with insomnia, difficulties falling asleep and frequent awakening during the night is commonly described.

Decreased appetite was also reported in many MBBS students. It is not only about their exams, studies but more about future opportunities. Student’s emotional well-being is of critical importance here.

The majority of the students felt that they were wasting their study potential due to the pandemic and long closures. The pandemic had affected their personal wellbeing and was worried about being exposed to COVID-19 during their clinical pieces of training.

COVID-19 has caused an extraordinary commotion to the medical education process and healthcare systems worldwide. The highly contagious nature of the virus has made it difficult to continue lectures, as usual, thus influencing the medical education process, which is based on lectures and patient-based education.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts people at risk of developing life-threatening conditions, presenting substantial challenges for medical education, as instructors must deliver lectures safely, while also ensuring the integrity and continuity of the medical education process. These challenges have resulted in limited patient care due to the focus on COVID-19 patients, which restricts the availability of bedside teaching opportunities for medical students.

Other challenges include a fear that medical students may contract the virus during their training and may transmit it to the community. Additionally, students are required to stay at home and abide by social distancing guidelines. Therefore, we must develop a medical education curriculum that provides students with opportunities for continuous learning, while also avoiding delays due to the pandemic.

However, educators must plan to continue to provide medical education and patient care during the pandemic, and these services should be conducted in accordance with ethical frameworks that are based on beneficence and the professional virtues of courage and self-sacrifice. Virtual clinical experience was another method to the suspension of clinical practices. This would permit medical students to play the role of a healthcare professional by interviewing patients, working with attendants to plan treatments, helping with paperwork, and counselling patients about their illness and prognosis.

Significantly Indian medical students do not have these privileges and they are somehow struggling to appear for exams, the uncertainty of dates and unstoppable pandemic situations have taken to toll, it’s high time that the education minister should come up with extraordinary solutions and find solutions.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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