The Problem: Healthcare workers and administrators have been overwhelmed by the surge in patient census. At our hospitals, there are heavy restrictions on visitors and families of patients are unable to receive in-person updates.
Our Approach: Physicians reached out to our Office of Student Affairs requesting student assistance in contacting patients’ families. Our Student Affairs office determined that MS2 students and above, all of whom have completed at least 1-2 core rotations, were eligible to participate in this task and delegated it to our student Task Force liaisons.
Volunteers were then recruited to call patients families and updated them on the status of loved ones at the hospital. Volunteers pre-round on the charts of the patients they are assigned to, and then participate in daily rounds with the team. They then synthesize the most important information, and learn the plan and updates for that patient. After this, they call and update the healthcare proxy regarding the status of the patient, the plan for the day, and where the patient will be (staying on the floor, up-triaged, down-triaged). Volunteers are then able to document these calls in the chart to update the team that the families have been contacted. This is a longitudinal experience where patient’s families are able to establish a connection with a volunteer during the hospital stay, and stay informed as well as supported by this student who is providing the information they need and are previously unable to obtain.
Students Participating: M2 and above (2nd Year medical students who have completed at least 1 clinical rotation) Overall Approach To Clinical Support General Approach We reached out to the Office of Student Affairs early on in the process of developing clinical volunteering opportunities and established a structure for processing requests for clinical support from the hospital. The process comprises 2 stages from an administrative and student level. Administrative Request. A centralized request form is submitted by the clinical team (i.e. faculty or administrator) with a description of the task, the estimated number of hours, and the estimated number of students requested. Vetting. The request is received by the Office of Student Affairs, which reviews the request and decides whether it is appropriate for student volunteering based on a number of factors, including usefulness, risks to students, and clinical expertise required. Those opportunities that are deemed inappropriate are sent back to requester.
Triage. The Office of Student Affairs determines the level of clinical expertise needed to staff the request - eg, whether MS2s or MS3s with clinical rotation experience are needed, vs. MS1s. The request is then forwarded to Clinical Support Liaison on the student level.
Student Assignment. Based on the type of work requested, the Clinical Support Liaison assigns the task to one of several Task Forces responsible for coordinating all clinical requests related to a certain domain (e.g. Workplace Safety, Remote Clinical Work, etc.).
Recruitment. Each Task Force leader recruits volunteers and ensures position requests are filled.
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