Sticking together in times of crisis

Daniel Lamanna is a Canadian international student currently in his third year of the Doctor of Medicine course based at the Epworth Clinical School. Along with other student volunteers, Daniel helped to set up a Medical Student Support Initiative to ease the burden of home and life responsibilities for frontline health workers during the pandemic.

“I had just recently completed my obstetrics and gynaecology rotation before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Australia, and prior to that at the beginning of the year, I completed my clinical rotation in paediatrics at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). I have had a wonderful time at the RCH where I have encountered many passionate and charismatic leaders and clinicians and have discovered a love for paediatric orthopaedics. Although the learning experience during the more recent term was shifted to a completely online model, the kindness and generosity of all clinicians – in particular Professor Gab Kovacs and Dr Grant Saffer – have afforded us students an opportunity to continue to learn and make the best during such uncertain times.

“With the help and support of many gracious and committed clinicians and medical student volunteers I have had the privilege to offer support to frontline healthcare workers.

“One initiative that was adopted from my colleagues back in Canada was the establishment of a Medical Student Support Initiative, with the primary aim of pairing medical student volunteers with healthcare professionals to help ease the burden of home and life responsibilities – childcare, cooking, and pet care to name a few. By relieving the healthcare professionals of some of their non-clinical duties, the objective is to free up time and mental energy for their continued efforts in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

“Additionally, I have also had the privilege to work under the guidance and leadership of Professor Fiona Russell, Dr Wonie Uahwatanasakul, and Eleanor Neal (BSc 2005, BA (Hons) 2005, MArts 2006, MPH 2015) in my role as the Medical Student Coordinator of the COVID-19 Kids Evidence Update – a joint initiative between The Royal Children’s Hospital and The Department of Paediatrics at The University of Melbourne. This weekly publication summarises and highlights critical global research in a variety of medical specialties in the context of COVID-19. This publication may then be used to guide and support the clinical decision making of those healthcare professionals working on the front lines who are facing unique and complex clinical challenges.

“In a fascinating way, it appears that people grow closer to one another when chaos presents itself – physiology would argue that we’re wired to either fight or take flight in times of extreme stress or need. It’s apparent to me that we have chosen as a community to fight together, and for this, I am quite proud of my colleagues and of the medical leadership for taking on this responsibility.”