Gathering supplies for future colleagues: Philadelphia medical students step up in time of crisis

It is a surreal time to be a medical student in Philadelphia. Like most students are seeing, lectures, clinicals and anything in-person are over.

But, one group refused to sit back and, instead, stepped up to help their future colleagues in more ways than one.

Different schools and different job goals – Philadelphia medical students quickly realized how much they have in common.

“We have all this passion and good will and we wanted to help, but didn’t think we could because we weren’t in the clinical spaces,” explained 4th year medical student Terry Gao.

They traded their books for boxes and shifted their focus from lectures and helping patients in rotations – something they can’t do because of coronavirus = to helping their future colleagues.


Healthcare workers on the front lines.

Starting with collecting personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes more than just masks.

“We do need as many gowns as we do N95 masks. In some cases, gloves, hats, caps, shoe covers and a bunch of sanitary equipment,” 3rd year medical student Stephanie Fagbemi said.


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More than 2,000 other student volunteers have joined them in what they call the “Philadelphia Organization of Health Professions Students” or “POHPS.”

And, in addition to making calls and picking up thousands of donations for PPE and supplies, they are stepping in to help workers in ways not normally considered.

“Child care, pet care and, then, we also have tutoring that was originally available to all healthcare workers but has also been opened up to the rest of the city,” Fagbemi added.

And, with rumors swirling on social media, they have a group dedicated to help get the facts straight.

“We’re taking information, we’re translating it into multiple languages. We’re going through research scientific articles to make sure accurate information is being spread,” 3rd year medical student Briana Mancenido said.

Even the general public can help out, in their own way.

“If you see a doctor, a nurse, a PA, PT, OT, anybody, just give them a huge thank you,” 2nd year medical student Sandi Cummings stated.


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