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Med students find ways to give back during COVID‑19

Posted by Fallon Bourgeois on May 12, 2020 in News
Third-year Medicine student Livia Anthes. (Provided photo)
Third-year Medicine student Livia Anthes. (Provided photo)

When third-year medical student Livia Anthes was awarded the Annie Hamilton Scholarship in Medicine last spring, she never could have imaged that just a year later it would be a source of safety and security during a global pandemic.

“From the moment I received the scholarship I was grateful for both the encouragement and support it offered me,” she says. “The latter is certainly heightened during these uncertain times.”

Like most of the world, Livia is grappling with the impact of COVID-19. She is missing out on crucial clinical time (as part of third-year curriculum) and awaiting news of how the rest of the academic year will unfold. On a personal level, Livia’s husband, who is self-employed in the music industry and the family’s main source of support, has seen a huge decline in work.

“Many people are facing difficult circumstances. The financial support of my scholarship means that we have something to help with the transition. It is keeping us both safe and sane right now as we navigate this situation.”

Using time and talent to help others

As the situation evolves, a bright spot for Livia has been the ways her classmates and other medical students have banded together to give back to the community. Over the last month, students have been putting their time and talent to use to help others.

“Many of us are missing being on the frontlines and providing service to our communities. It’s important for our class to stay involved in a way that we can make a difference and continue to serve.”

Livia explains that ideas and opportunities to give back are unfolding and being shared within the class Facebook group.

“People are taking initiative to identify and share opportunities,” she says. “We’re then trying to match our skill sets to what’s available. Every day something new pops up in our group. It’s neat to see how students are making a difference in varying degrees.

“I have a wonderful classmate who is raising money for Ramadan, as a lot of families within her community are struggling to prepare. The money will be used to buy gift cards for groceries. Another medical student, who had to cancel their vacation, is donating the vacation funds to a local shelter and encouraging others to do the same. Others are volunteering with 811 or with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. There are so many amazing things happening.”

Doing what they can

Livia has stepped up to volunteer with Public Health to do daily monitoring calls. It involves following up with individuals who have confirmed or assumed cases of COVID-19 or those who have been in close contact. The calls vary from a simple check-in to redirecting people to an online assessment tool or 811 if they are experiencing symptoms.

In a small way it’s a chance for Livia to fulfill the desire that motivated her to pursue medicine—human connection. “Right now, I am really missing the opportunity to work with people. This allows me to stay connected with our community and make a difference during a time when people need support.”