Medical students at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar have answered a call from the government’s Ministry of Public Health for volunteers to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eighteen WCM-Q students and one recent graduate signed up to help the Ministry of Public Health in its work to contain the effects of the coronavirus in four key areas: risk communication; guidelines and standard operating procedures; investigation; and contact tracing.
At the encouragement of the Qatar Medical Students’ Association, the students are working as volunteers for two to four days per week, depending on the Ministry of Public Health’s needs and their own personal and study commitments. The ministry is providing specialist training to all volunteers to allow them to assist in tackling the virus.
Volunteers in the area of risk communication are working on the national coronavirus hotline service, answering questions from callers and taking their histories and referring them to testing facilities where needed. Other volunteers help develop national guidelines and healthcare policy documents, while those in the investigation section use the ministry’s database of COVID-19 patients to take histories and discover whom those patients have been in contact with. They then pass that information to the volunteers on the contact tracing team, who reach out to individuals who have been in contact with COVID-19 patients and help them access a testing facility.
WCM-Q student volunteers are also working with qualified doctors who are members of Qatar Medical Association to provide psychosocial support via phone to patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The student volunteers are trained by the association’s doctors, who also monitor the calls for quality control.
“As medical students, we felt that we had an obligation to help Qatar fight the COVID-19 pandemic so we were very keen and grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with the Ministry of Public Health,” said WCM-Q fourth-year medical student Abdallah Tom, president of Qatar Medical Students’ Association. “We are all extremely committed to using the skills and knowledge we have learned in our studies so far to help efforts to protect the health of everyone in Qatar.”
Added Dr. Thurayya Arayssi, senior associate dean for medical education and continuing professional development at WCM-Q: “We are very proud of our student volunteers for showing great enthusiasm for helping the Ministry of Public Health with this vital work. As doctors in training, they already have a strong instinct to help safeguard the health of anyone in need and they are very thankful to the Ministry of Public Health for giving them this chance to help.”