It’s a hard time to be a medical student.

Most went into the field of study because they want to help others. They see healthcare professionals struggling to address the Covid-19 pandemic. But they haven’t finished the training that would allow them to fully participate in the pandemic response.

There are things they can do, though, like providing childcare or picking up groceries for working doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

Medical students from the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the University of Washington School of Medicine in Spokane have formed a group to offer those services to healthcare professionals.

Their effort is mirrored by medical students across the country, said Reilly Bealer, a second-year medical student at WSU who spearheaded the Spokane effort with UW medical student Natalie Chin.

Closeup of Reilly Bealer
Reilly Bealer

“Students want to help out,” said Bealer. “It’s been amazing to see our student community come together to support our healthcare workers.”

They started by signing up student volunteers, then created a form for healthcare professionals asking what services are needed. The form notes that the initiative is not sponsored by either university.

They’ve had interest from healthcare professionals, many of whom are saying they intend to use the services of the Covid Healthcare Worker Action Team in the near future as the number of cases locally grows as anticipated, Bealer said. As she talked on the phone, she received an email from a local physician inquiring about childcare.

Meanwhile, Bealer has volunteered at the drive-through Covid-19 testing site at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds along with other health sciences students in the region.

“As health sciences students, we don’t know what to expect, what’s going to happen,” she said. “There’s an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and uncertainty. Being able to do something to make a difference has been what’s pushing us forward. Our real heroes are on the front lines of the pandemic and we just want to try to provide any support we possibly can.”