More information about text formats
We read with interest the article by Astorp et al. which details the responses from questionnaires given to medical students in Denmark about what would motivate them to join the healthcare workforce in the event of a pandemic . As final-year medical students in the UK (one who joined the NHS workforce as a student volunteer [OT] and one who did not [ET]), we felt that the points highlighted by Astorp et al. did not fully explore the factors affecting students’ decision to join the workforce, based on our own experiences.
The authors correctly identify their primary focus on the ‘positive’ motivational points as a limitation to their study. It is our opinion that the ‘negative’ points (i.e., what may demotivate students) are perhaps more pertinent. For example, the article mentions that personal safety was a significant concern yet fails to explore the students’ fears for the safety of their friends and family. This was a significant concern for us both and a key consideration in making the decision to volunteer or not. Fears of infecting elderly family members and other vulnerable people were also raised in a similar questionnaire given to medical students in India .
Astorp et al. also mention that in their results that “encouragement from their university was essential” to some students. We agree that encouragement from university, or at least explicit permission, is an important factor to consider. The UK Medical School Council...
Astorp et al. also mention that in their results that “encouragement from their university was essential” to some students. We agree that encouragement from university, or at least explicit permission, is an important factor to consider. The UK Medical School Council released advice to medical students who wished to volunteer , which stated that volunteering must not take priority over learning. In our case this consisted of a full-time online timetable of lectures and webinars, which we believe in the absence of direct encouragement from our university may have been enough to deter some students.
Astorp et al. mention that they did not investigate what was “impeding to students”, which they say could have helped to further “guide clinicians and administrators”. However, we think trying to establish what was most important to the medical students without considering these demotivating factors makes it difficult to draw useful conclusions. Given the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 situation, we suggest an emphasis should be placed on communication between healthcare providers and universities such that if medical students are called upon to assist the workforce, they feel safe and supported whilst doing so.
 Astorp MS, Sørensen GVB, Rasmussen S, et al. Support for mobilising medical students to join the COVID-19 pandemic emergency healthcare workforce: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey. BMJ Open. 2020;10(9)
 Agarwal V, Gupta L, Davalbhakta S, et al. Prevalent fears and inadequate understanding of COVID-19 among medical undergraduates in India: results of a web-based survey. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2020;50(3):343-350.
 Medical Schools Council, 2020. Statement of expectation: Medical Student volunteers in the NHS. [Online] Available at: https://www.medschools.ac.uk/media/2622/statement-of-expectation-medical... [Accessed September 2020].