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Students Organize to Support Healthcare Workers

By Susan Green

Nationwide, medical students are responding to COVID-19 by helping beleaguered healthcare workers in their communities. At Geisel, medical students are providing non-clinical support to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in the Upper Valley.

Taryn Weinstein, director of Student Affairs, says as soon as news of the pandemic broke, students wanting to jump into action began launching projects—gathering personal protective equipment (PPE) and providing childcare—then reached out to the StudentAffairs office seeking help with organizingvolunteering at DHMC.

"I was initially connected with Jeffrey O'Brien to help coordinate opportunities at the hospital," Weinstein says. O'Brien is the senior vice president of Clinical Operations at DHMC. Since then she has been working with Laurie Emanuele, director of fiscal and academic affairs and research, community and family medicine/population health at DHMC, to place students into volunteer roles at the hospital. "It took a few weeks for us to settle what students would be doing because of the rapidly changing situation and to ensure compliance with the Association of American Medical Colleges guidelines, which strongly advise against medical students taking on clinical roles at this time.

"The collaboration between the hospital and Geisel has been wonderful. Everyone wanted to bring these volunteer experiences together so our students who wanted to be involved could do it safely."

By late April, 21 medical students were deployed to DHMC's supply chain operations—distributing supplies to various areas of the hospital as runners. Others are helping RNs with calls to the hospital's COVID-19 Hotline, supporting telehealth development, and helping with Aging Resource Center and Pediatrics Family Support Check-in calls among other remote, yet vital roles.

Additionally, several independent medical student-driven projects are underway, including collecting PPE from Upper Valley businesses for distribution to rural hospitals and providing virtual academic support to local middle school students.

"We are so proud of our students who are extraordinarily motivated and professional—they are amazing," Weinstein says. "Their level of adaptability and perseverance in trying to find ways to support their community, patients, and each other is incredible. They inspire me every day."


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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College