Med Students and Impact of COVID-19

Director of medical school tutoring, Joel Ramirez MD, explains how CORVID-19 may alter the life, exams, and rotations of med students. He explains the following:

  • How rescheduling and/or suspending rotations affects learning
  • What cancelling USMLE Step exam dates means for testing
  • How residency and fellowship interviews change when moved to online conferencing platforms


All right.

Hello, everyone, this is Dr. Ramirez, director of medical school tutoring of MedSchoolCoach. Just want to reach out to you guys. Say a few things, kind of in the current situation of the COVID-19 Outbreak. And also talk about what kind of implications this is going to have on you preparing for your medical school exams and all these really important board exams that are coming up and that some of you might be planning to take soon. So first off, to kind of address the outbreak. I think things are kind of rapidly developing kind of day to day. Things are changing a lot. No one really knows exactly how things are going to change in a few weeks or a couple months from now. But they have – every day new things coming out and I only trust a few of those.

The first is, you know, as this virus spreads and has an impact on our lives and the way we live our lives and particularly as students, how we go through education I just really want to emphasized that I wishing you all the best and hope that you’re all being safe and that your lives are I guess minimally disrupted by this disturbance. So these kind of evolutions are changing day to day.So whatever I talked about today might be different by this time tomorrow comes. But what I’ll do is, I’ll kind of share with you – share with you what is going on right now and kind of our thinking about this and how you potentially could adapt as a student. So due to the outbreak the medical schools are really changing their curriculum. So most pre-clinical classes have now been canceled or – I guess, not as much cancelled as switched to a kind of a digital medium.

So, to remind, all and most of the schools across the country are now kind of putting a pause on any kind of lectures and all the small group activities will now happen digitally. In that the – what they’re going to do as far as exams still remains to be seen. I know at my institution. They are still planning to have people come in to do the exams just to protect security. But I imagine that will probably – will probably change, especially because if a big group of students came together I’m sure they probably wouldn’t want that. Released today, March 17th, AAMC and the LCME issued a guidance to medical school, essentially formally recommending that they put on put the clinical rotations on hold until March 31st. What that means for us is if you’re a third or fourth year medical student, you – your school is likely not going to have you come in for two, four weeks.

What that means as far as your education, what you’re going to be required home, how you’re going to meet these requirements. It’s still really unclear. It seems like each institution is kind of taking things day by day and each institution is taking a different approach. But formal recommendation: breaking news today from the AAMC, is pause clinical rotations for at least two weeks. And the goal for this is to reduce potential exposure to medical students and then also to increase or reduce the use of PPE personal protective equipment and reserve it for some of the staff that might need it most, particularly as this moves on, as this develops. And the next really big news, is that a federal level, the CDC, they announce recommendations to reduce meetings of greater than 10 people. So in response to that, Prometric actually put a essentially a hold and canceled all testing dates until for 30 days starting March 18th, which when I’m recording this is going to be tomorrow.

So what that means is also a little unclear. They haven’t made it completely clear how they’re going to adapt to this. From my understanding, all the testing dates that were scheduled a month from or within a month of March 18th will be canceled and will likely will be rescheduled to later today, a later date. They mentioned that they’re going to waive fees for rescheduling and waive fees for eligibility extension. I don’t think there’s actually a process in place yet for them to do that. It is my understanding that that is a plan. So if you had your exams go in one month, that will no longer happen. So. It’s kind of talking about what that means for you. We’ll get to that in a second. But understand it, within one month, it’s not going to happen and you’ll likely have to reschedule to a later date. And I think that that is kind of an estimate right now. And I don’t think we know that’s going to be only a month or it might be more than a month. I think we can say it’s going to be at least one month.

So that includes all the step exams, all the USMLE, the COMLEX exams, all put on hold right now. So kind of keeping that in mind. How can you move forward? I mean, I think this is – imagine this is a pretty stressful period of time, particular for people who have been studying for these board exams for weeks, if not months now, are already really stressed about what’s going on in world. What is going on in medical school, kind of worry about your future. You know, these exams are permanent scores. And in reality, you’re kind of – you’re going to be stuck with the score for years to come when we apply to residency. And I don’t think the residency programs are just going to accept that, well, you know, it was an outbreak time, kind of excuse for a low score.

So I think that kind of raises the stress that everybody’s having right now. I think what important – what is really important right now is to remain calm, remain focused and be flexible and adaptable. So, you know, life will move on. You will still be prepared to take is exams and you’re just going to have to rely on different methods and to adapt to a new schedule. You have to focus on more digital learning methods. So if you are someone who was going to an in-person class, it’s likely that that is canceled, if you like, small study groups, you probably should, to kind of choose a different way to study. I think more critical than ever is to really focus on digital tutoring and digital education. So here at MedSchoolCoach, we really focus on digital tutoring and digital education.

This is kind of our thing. We’ve been doing this for years. This is what we specialize in. We provide personalized one-on-one help and one-on-one tutoring at this period. I think this is extremely important. I think a lot of people having their study schedules changed last minute. They’re kind of having your – If you were going to take your exam the next month, you’re going to be rescheduled to a future date that we don’t even really know what will be quite yet. So I think it’s going to be really important. First thing first can get back on your feet. Reassess the amount of time you’re going to have study, make a study plan and then begin to enact that study plan. So if you’re a pre-clinical student who’s now trying to learn how to be a doctor from home. This is a great time to get some extra help, a great time to get some guidance from someone who’s been through it already to get a little more directed learning since a lot of us tend be kind of self-directed learning. If you’re a clinical student at home that how – this could be a really great opportunity for you to prepare for the shelf exams, which are probably still going to happen.

That’s going to be in two weeks or later. You’ll probably still take your shelf exam that your current rotation. And then you’re also a clinical student at home, maybe this is a great time to get a leg up on Step 1 or Step 2 CK. So take advantage of this kind of change and opportunity, kind of try to take a native, flip it to be a positive and check with yourself in a good position to to move forward with your medical education and to do well in all these tests which are going to have, kind of a permanent score and impact on life. So in order to do this, we’ve actually been working to expand our tutor availability at MedSchoolCoach. Here We can kind of provide you the support that you need during this really challenging time and provide you the direction and guidance that you need. If you have all these questions about: how am I supposed to change my plan, when should I take the exam, should I delay, what is this going to mean for my education? That’s really something that we’re going to focus really hard on right now. That we have the tools to provide you with.

So we’re here for you. We’ve always been here for students. We think that right now there’s a particular need for students who need some additional education, some digital support, and some digital tutoring. So if you’re interested in learning more, you can go to We have everything online. If you are – would like to schedule a 15 minute phone consult with me, you can go through our enrollment team, they can set that up and we can talk and game plan about how tutoring might be useful for you and how tutoring can help you move forward and through this particularly challenging time. But we’re here for you. Be calm. Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the prize. Continue through your medical education. Put yourself in a position to do better on these exams. So you can go on to get that residency that you want and the training as you want. Good luck. Be safe and I’ll kind of end with this. I think the road to becoming a physician is very challenging. It’s very long. It’s arduous. Medical school is difficult.

These board exams are so challenging, but being able to gain and utilize all that knowledge to help people when they’re ill and when they need you the most is extremely gratifying.

Sahil Mehta

Sahil Mehta M.D. is an attending physician in the Department of Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Founder of MedSchoolCoach. Dr Mehta is one of the world’s experts on medical school admissions having founded MedSchoolCoach in 2007. MedSchoolCoach provides admissions consulting to premedical students in the form of interview preparation, essay editing and general advising. In the past 10 years, he has had a hand in over a thousand acceptances to medical school.

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