Uncertainty looms over the future of medical students

City Kolkata Medical students Pandemic

Medical students are grappling with mental health issues due to sudden disruption in their studies. They are also not receiving adequate training from their institutions they say.   

Kolkata: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, medical students say they are struggling with their mental health as they are not receiving practical lessons and sufficient online theoretical classes from their institutions. 

Data obtained from the research article by the National Journal Physiology, Pharmacy, and Pharmacology, said that anxiety(17.20 percent), stress(15.60 percent), and depression(10.80 percent) are prevalent in medical students as they cannot attend medical colleges.       

There has been a growing sense of anxiety among the students as they think these online theoretical classes are not fruitful. 

Anirban Chakrabarty, a third-year student of Medical College and Hospital, said he couldn’t understand most of his online classes as he was dependent on the practical lessons for learning. “From this year onwards, we have subjects which depend on the clinical experience. I learn most of it from examining the patients in these clinics. As I am not getting any proper classes, I am trying to learn by watching the clinical videos on YouTube,” said Chakrabarty. 

Students learning from the online slide about a patient with varicose vein. Image courtesy: Sairindhri De

Not only the lack of practical classes but also the sudden disruption in the studies, the irregular routine, and the uncertainties have also affected the mental health of the students. Madhurima Lahiri, who is a third-year medical student at Calcutta National Medical College said, “We have no idea when things will be okay. Personally, it has been a ride for me. I am suffering from anxiety most of the time, and I don’t have the motivation to study, too,” she said the third-year student.

Roshni Mallick, a third-year medical student of CNMC, Kolkata also talked about how she has been struggling with mental health because of the change in her routine. “It’s hard to concentrate, maintain a proper sleep pattern, and exercise. Earlier, I couldn’t wait for college to reopen, but after seven months, I cannot imagine going back to that routine,” said Mallick.  

Dr MB Ramamurthy who is an assistant professor of Community Medicine at Bangalore Medical College talked about the importance of practical classes in the medical field. “Examining a person physically is vital for medical students. The students learn about these patients during these practical training,” said the professor. He also added institutions should start reopening, and the students must take necessary precautions while attending the practical classes as they are more effective. 

Students are also going to have their examinations once their college reopens. Sairindhri De, a third-year student of Calcutta National Medical College, talked about her anxiety regarding her final year exams. “We are missing out on lectures and regular practical sessions. At the same time, we also have our exams in February. We will have less time to complete our final year subjects,” said the third-year student.

Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor said that these online classes are equally difficult for professors who want to train these students into good doctors.

“A good professor makes sure the students understand the basic concept of the subjects. The ones who want to train good doctors cannot do it through online classes,” said the doctor. 

But, Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurota, faculty of the department of Physiology of KPC Medical College and Hospital thinks differently. “I feel there are a lot more advantages of online classes than disadvantages. Even though practical lessons are important, online videos will help them to have a strong theoretical background,” he said. He added that the safety of the students is more important than giving the final year exams.

“It would’ve been easier if this year was considered as a zero-academic year. It’s too dangerous for the students to come to the hospitals to study. They have a higher chance of getting infected in the hospitals once the colleges reopen,” added the doctor.

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