Editor’s Note: In November 2019, we published an interview with Michael Duong, a second-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania and a caregiver for his grandfather, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease. After UPenn canceled in-person classes for the remainder of the year, we asked Michael to reflect on his personal experience of the last two months.
By Michael Duong
While the sun shone brightly outside, an unsettling stillness filled the hospital floors. I could hear my footsteps echoing, which normally only happens on night or weekend shift. It was mid-March here at Penn and outpatient clinic visits, elective surgeries and emergency department visits were becoming less frequent. I saw firsthand the concern for COVID-19 ramping up over the course of two months, on my emergency medicine rotation in February and then my psychiatry rotation in March. At that time, medical schools across the country told us students to stay home and flatten the curve, even though there were split opinions. Some of us wished to serve on the frontlines and continue learning in person. Others wished to help limit exposure to COVID-19. Both perspectives were valid and we waited anxiously to see how medical schools would respond, what provisions would be provided for our education. How could we help the medical community when we just started our clinical learning? How would our learning be affected?