Over the past year, the health care community has learned a great deal about COVID-19 and how to safely care for patients with the disease. In addition, supplies of personal protective equipment have increased and vaccination of health care workers has begun.
With this knowledge, the University of Maryland Baltimore leadership recently made the decision to allow students to participate in clinical care of COVID + patients or PUIs provided they follow very specific safety measures. Most importantly, students have the option to opt out of caring for COVID + patients and PUIs without reprisal but should understand that other clinical options may be unavailable.
Students with any in-person patient care experiences this semester will need to complete the COVID opt-in/opt-out form by Monday, February 1 (complete form here). Students who choose to opt-out should again remind clinical instructors/preceptors at the beginning of the shift, prior to assignments, that they are not comfortable caring for COVID + patients and PUIs. Their form must be on file to opt-out. Dean Kirschling held Student Q&A sessions on the policy earlier this week. A recording of that session is available here.
If a student informs a clinical instructor, preceptor, or faculty that they don’t want to care for a patient who is COVID + or a PUI, every effort should be made to reassign the student to other patients. If other non-COVID + or PUI patients are not available, attempts should be made to partner the student with another student caring for non-COVID + or PUI patients. If there are no non-COVID + or PUI patients, the student should be made aware of the circumstance and the appropriate academic dean informed.
In order to care for COVID + patients or PUI a student must follow the protocol below:
- Student will have been fit tested;
- Students will wear an N95 or equivalent mask, face shield, isolation gowns and gloves while caring for these patients;
- Students will have reviewed COVID -19 infection control and donning/doffing materials;
- Students will notify their academic associate dean immediately if there is any safety concern.
Currently, students can engage in human subjects research, but may not participate in protocols with direct face to face contact of COVID + subjects or PUI. Research protocols at this time remain unchanged.
Dr. Bim Akintade
Dr. Kirsten Corazzini
Dr. Maeve Howett
Dr. Shannon Idzik