“I am a med student: I was hoping to help”

Vivien Lee Greiwe, 22, Germany

When coronavirus broke, medical students in Germany were told to report to hospitals so that they could be recruited in case of necessity. This applied even to first-year students like me.  Everyone was just so eager to help out. That’s how I felt too, but I live in a very small town and it turned out that I was not needed. It was frustrating, but at the same time I was happy because it meant that hospitals were not understaffed. 

I am also a paramedic, but that turned out to be useless too as people stopped going to the hospital for minor issues since they feared that they would be infected. We didn’t have so many of the calls that we usually experience, especially those for smaller issues that don’t actually require an ambulance although people tend to call it anyway.

I am actually doing my studies in The Netherlands, but when my university shut down I decided to come back to Germany to quarantine with my family. For about a month, we only had readings and a few lectures with new professors. Our previous instructors had to suspend their classes as they were all working full-time at the hospital. The new ones were good, although they were not physicians. 

We are now having a lot more online classes. It has been difficult to follow them from my bedroom. Our professors don’t check on us as often — now it’s just once a week, when we have to give presentations online. I really need the social pressure that holds me accountable. I have also tried to help out in a hospital here in The Netherlands, but unfortunately I don’t speak Dutch and all the English-speaking positions have already been occupied.

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