What are Medical Students Doing During COVID-19 Lockdown?

This article is written by a Barts and the London Medical Student intending to give a perspective of the impact of COVID-19 on their medical school education.


When I started my 4th year of medical school little did I know the incredible changes that were about to take place due to the single biggest global health crisis in living memory.

I will not write about the impact on the wider world, as there are much more qualified people who can inform you on that, however, I have tried to give an idea as to what it’s like to live in this age as a Barts Medical Student.

Clinical Placements

As I continued to hear more and more about the virus during February 2020, it was looking very likely that the medical school may take action and stop our compulsory clinical placements to try and protect both patients and students.

On 12th March 2020, all medical students got an email the Dean for Education at Barts saying that all further clinical placements would be cancelled. In retrospect it was a good time to stop as the cases in the UK were about to rocket over the following weeks.

Needless to say, most of the students were happy about the time off we were going to get.

It is rare in medical school to get a significant amount of time off other than summer holidays, so this was a welcome break.


Our 3rd end of term exam that is sat in June will still go ahead as an online exam. This will only be looked at to see how students are progressing rather than as a progression hurdle which it normally is.

As the medical school has stated, “they are there to allow you and us to gauge your progress and focus your learning on areas of relative weakness”.

However, the end of year exams are a different story.

All end of year exams have been moved to September 2020. They will not be assessed and will “not be used to determine progression” which means they don’t count.

They will however look at the people who have done particularly badly in the exams set so far and ask them to resit the year.

So that’s great news, right?

A pretty easy way of getting through my fourth year right?

Well, kind of.

The material that was missed from clinical placements will still need to be learnt and so will be done in 5th year. The OSCE exams (practical exams) will be combined in 5th year to include material from both 4th and 5th year.

So although in the short term it means we all have a lot of time off, it means that in 5th year we will need to do a lot more work.

Volunteering Opportunities

There are a lot of opportunities for medical students to volunteer, which is especially needed for the extra hospitals and beds that are being made to account for all the extra coronavirus patients.

Personally, there are a lot of things that I need and want to do at home (which I won’t go into here) and so have decided to not volunteer.

Luckily, there seems to be an excess number of volunteers from around the country which is incredible to see.

Final Thoughts

If I am honest, the lack of exams has been a bit of a blessing which has enabled me to work on other projects (such as Revising Rubies) that I would otherwise be unable to.

These are times which will stay in my memory for many years to come and will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the world.

Needless to say, I hope that you are all well in these difficult times.

Keep safe.

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