The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Extending a helping hand: U of S medical students aid health-care workers on the frontlines

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A screenshot of the first virtual meeting of the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan, with Colten Molnar (top left); Tayyaba Bhatti (top right); Sarah White (middle left); Sehjal Bhargava (middle right); Alexa McEwen (bottom left); and Jessica Froehlich (bottom right) | Supplied

Health-care providers can now count on medical stu­dents at the University of Saskatchewan for support in their everyday tasks.

The Student Medical So­ciety of Saskatchewan ex­pressed their appreciation for the frontline health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stu­dent volunteers are offering their time to these workers by fulfilling tasks such as picking up groceries and pre­scriptions, and helping with childcare.

For workers to receive sup­port, they simply need to fill out a form that was circulat­ed by the society and wait about two days before being matched with a student vol­unteer.

Colten Molnar, a first-year medical student, says that the initiative came together through the power of social media.

“We saw our peers from across the country start talking about initiatives like this, where they were doing little things to bridge the gap before these providers can find more stable childcare and more stable solutions during this time,” Molnar said.

With the fast developments in preventative measures across the country, which in­cluded campuses delivering the remainder of the Winter Term remotely, medical stu­dents across the country have been quick to volunteer their newfound free time to front­line health-care practitioners.

These local medical stu­dents are following the ex­ample set by Canadian universities like the Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto, which have launched similar initiatives in their respective home fronts. The focal point across the board is to keep the health-care workers focused and alleviate some responsi­bilities so that they can exe­cute their tasks successfully.

The initiative has been a way for students to educate themselves about how health­care works in times of crisis, according to Molnar, as well as lend a hand to their profes­sional peers.

“It is a really unique way to stay connected with peo­ple when you’re not in the classroom,” Molnar said. “We thought that since we’re out of class anyway, it would be good for us to step in and be that support and offer ser­vices in a way that would be useful and be able to make a difference in the healthcare community.”

Helping the community in this way has helped Molnar deal with the current pan­demic. He initially felt over­whelmed due to the amount of online information about COVID-19, but the program helped him shift his focus and channel his energy to­wards the initiative and con­tinuing his studies.

“I am looking at this as an addition to my studies … be­cause learning from a pan­demic like this — learning what works and what doesn’t, how society is facing this — is important as well,” Molnar said.

For second-year medical student Tayyaba Bhatti, sup­porting health-care workers that are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of optimism in uncertain times.

“Just looking at how sup­portive everyone has been, from my peers and my col­leagues, people are stepping up and taking time out of their lives right now to do this,” Bhatti said. “To see that as a physician, in the future if anything like this happens ever again, the fact that the entire community is so sup­portive … it’s a really nice feeling to have.”

Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro

Photo: Supplied

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