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Original research
Support for mobilising medical students to join the COVID-19 pandemic emergency healthcare workforce: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey
  1. Mike Sæderup Astorp1,2,
  2. Gustav Valentin Blichfeldt Sørensen1,2,
  3. Sten Rasmussen2,3,
  4. Jeppe Emmersen4,
  5. Alexander Wolfhagen Erbs4,
  6. Stig Andersen1,2
  1. 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark
  3. 3Orthopaedic Surgery Research Unit, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  4. 4Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mike Sæderup Astorp; m.astorp{at}


Objective To identify what motivates medical students to join a pandemic emergency healthcare workforce.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Aalborg University, Denmark.

Participants All medical students.

Main outcome measures Motivational points as perceived by the students to be important. Demographic characteristics and 11 motivational domains scored on a Visual Analog Scale from 0 (low) to 100 (high) responding to the question: ‘To what degree are the following statements important for you to join a national emergency preparedness workforce?’ The questionnaire was developed by an expert panel in a process of four iterations.

Results A total of 486 students of 688 (70.6%) completed the survey within 7 days in March 2020. 80% had decided to join the pandemic emergency healthcare workforce. Ranked median scores for motivational statements in each domain were: care, 100; learn, 90; pride, 83; team, 77; needed, 75; safety, 75; supervision, 75; job, 73; duty, 66; salary, 62; historic, 50. Supervision (p<0.001), salary (p<0.001) and duty (p=0.001) were given increasing priority with advancing study years. Interestingly, students added that support by the university and clarification of study plans were priorities.

Conclusions Results guide decision-makers and colleagues on how to motivate or reinforce medical students in joining the pandemic emergency healthcare workforce. Importantly, students emphasised protection for themselves.

  • medical education & training
  • health policy
  • health services administration & management

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  • Contributors Conceptualisation: MSA, SR, JE, AWE and SA. Formal analysis: MSA and SA. Methodology: MSA, AWE, SA, SR, JE and GVBS. Project administration: MSA and SA. Resources: SA, GVBS and JE. Software: GVBS. Supervision: SA and GVBS. Validation: JE. Visualisation: MSA. Writing—original draft preparation: MSA. Writing—review and editing: MSA, SA, GVBS, AWE, SR and JE. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted. MSA is the guarantor of the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Written informed consent was obtained from all students by agreeing to answer the questionnaire. Due to the study being a survey, ethical approval was not required according to the Danish Act on the Scientific Ethical Committee System (Act no. 593, section 14, subsection 2). Approval was obtained from the Danish Data Protection Agency (record number 2020-030).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. The questionnaire will be shared in the appendix both in the original (Danish) and in a translation to English. Extra data are available by emailing the corresponding author while individual participant data cannot be shared for the reason of confidentiality.