Tom Bradley is a 3rd Year Medical Student Scholar studying at the University of Leicester. This is an open debate about an important question that many healthcare professionals are grappling with at this point in time. Tom has posed the debate question to stimulate your thinking, so have a read of his example below and then join the debate by trying to answer the question. Tom will be keeping an eye on the comments section and challenging your thoughts. Ultimately, this could become a very common interview question and in the process, it will help you to learn about ethics and view a problem in the way that doctors would go about ethically problem-solving. Good luck and enjoy the debate!
The sun is out and I’m back home, back with the dog constantly demanding entertainment, back with a plethora of organisation to accomplish, back with the better wine than a student can afford, back with my Lego, back with my family. Isolation is seen to be the ultimate holiday, negligible responsibilities and more time to spare than ever before. I find myself both revelling in this retreat from the daily grind, yet also ill at ease.
As a third-year medical student you find yourself reflecting (as all good medic’s should), should it be me out there? Should I be on the frontline assisting our colleagues to be? Or should I stay home, carry on studying, learning and relaxing in safety and let this crisis pass me by.
Probability dictates that as a fit and well 20-year-old, I will come out of the other side of this virus relatively unscathed, therefore should it not be my duty to volunteer in place of the returning NHS staff who’ve hung up their stethoscopes at far more risk than I am?
At this point in my training, I have spent 6 months in GP practices and hospitals, I ‘m deemed competent in taking blood, managing a cardiac arrest and taking a reasonable history from most patients, skills that have the potential to ease the load of any overworked junior doctor. A time like this may also be the perfect time for me to hone those skills, which I have been trained for.
Despite this, I know that I’m still brand new to the craft and have more to learn than I can possibly imagine. I make mistakes often and rely on the F1’s to both recognise and rectify these. On placement this is part of the learning process and so it is accommodated for, however in a time of such national emergency, it does not seem fair to increase the burden of the junior doctors I’m assigned to. I am also a quantifiable risk factor for infection spread, both in the hospital and to my family back home.
Should I stay or should I go? The former could leave me better equipped to assist the next time the health service faces a challenge such as this, when the skills and knowledge I will have are needed far more than those which I now possess. The latter could put myself and my family in harm’s way, but make a true difference to the lives of both the patients I serve and the colleagues I serve with.
So, should I stay or should I go?
Post your thoughts below! It does not matter if you are right or wrong; by participating in the learning process, you will have a greater chance of understanding how ethical principles can be applied.