Life of a Medical Student During a Pandemic


After a brief summer break, continuing the series is Georgia Savvides giving her view of being a third year medical student.

I rushed onto the last flight to my home in Cyprus. My flight arrived at 4:36pm and the border closed at 5pm. I’ll never forget the faces of the students that arrived on the 5:05 flight and were denied entry. It could’ve easily been me.

By Georgia Savvides, 3rd Year Medical Student

I was in my second year of medical school when COVID-19 became a household name. I was rushed onto the last flight to my home in Cyprus. My flight arrived at 4:36pm and the border closed at 5pm. I’ll never forget the faces of the students that arrived on the 5:05 flight and were denied entry. It could’ve easily been me.

The pandemic created abrupt social isolation for everyone around the world. When I started 3rd year I was relieved that I could have social interactions with my clinical group. My typical week consisted of one day on the ward, 2 consultant led bedside teaching sessions and online zoom sessions. Eventually we were permitted on the ward everyday and I felt like a part of the team. Like I could help the healthcare professionals on the front line and make a difference in patients lives.

As with any difficult situation, each person relies on different coping mechanisms. My coping mechanism going into hospital and focusing on how I could help and what I could learn. Others picked up new hobbies or reignited old ones. Some started businesses or focused on self-care. I’m grateful that I could throw myself into learning, still be excited to learn more and be able to socialise. The loss of in-person experiences for students this year has created a new pandemic of loneliness and has made it harder for new students to solidify friendships.

Placement was a way for me to make new friends and make the most of the pandemic way of life. I honestly have had a great year and I owe this to being careful with my mental health, speaking to my friends and having a positive outlook.

Find your coping mechanism and you’ll be alright. At the end of the day, social isolation is horrible but you can make it better by being kind to yourself.

So here are some things I found helpful during med school in the pandemic:

  1. Try to make the most of your days on placement or in person. If you live alone like me, it may be the only socialising you do all week!
  2. Focus on self care, a relaxing bath or a Netflix movie night can make all the difference
  3. Keep up with your tasks. To do lists and making sure you don’t fall behind, can prevent future stress.
  4. FaceTime FaceTime FaceTime! Video calling my family and friends was a nice way to catch up and something to look forward to.
  5. Make an effort with your placement buddies. They can make your year a whole lot better. My clinical partners got me through this year in hospital, especially when we were on the COVID ward.
  6. Get out of the house. Going to the library, going for a walk or even to the supermarket can clear your mind and help with cabin fever.
  7. Find something you love about each placement and focus on it. You’re not going to like every specialty but finding the positive side can change your day to day life.