Student Spotlight banner. Credits: University of Oxford
Student Spotlight banner. Credits: University of Oxford

Student Spotlight: Working on the frontline of COVID-19

Meirian Evans is a 4th year medical student at St Catz and is heading up Tingewick Society this year, a charity run by medical students. Meirian shares her experience of working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting Oxford’s hospitals

I’ve been involved in the COVID effort in a variety of ways across Oxford’s hospitals over the past 6 months which, after months of feeling useless back at home in the first wave, has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

As medical students, we don’t really get much of an opportunity to spend time with hospital support staff and allied health professionals (dieticians, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physios etc.), so meeting such a wide range of staff really opened my eyes into how much goes into patient care and the running of the hospital, beyond what we learn in medical school.

From studying to shifts

In January, the day after lockdown 3 was announced, we got an email telling us that our placements were postponed indefinitely because the pandemic had got so bad again, advertising a variety of positions we could take up in the trust. I instantly knew that I had to get stuck in – I felt so useless at home – so signed up to work as a Healthcare Assistant in Intensive care, and had my first shift the very next day. This was the ultimate baptism of fire – we’re all in the first year of clinical school so hadn’t had any placements in the hospital yet, and going from lectures and essays straight into working 12 hour shifts, day and night, wearing full PPE in intensive care in the middle of a horrendous pandemic was a huge shock to the system.

I was instantly struck by how much younger all the patients were – they were mostly in their 50s and 60s, which is the same age as my parents, and many had no underlying health conditions. This hit me so hard, and I came home and cried in the shower at the end of my first shift. I’m immensely grateful to have such an incredible group of friends who supported me so much throughout my time working in ICU.

Looking to the future

Looking back now I can’t pretend that the amount of suffering I saw on a daily basis didn’t affect me hugely. These experiences will stay with me for life – but I would say that working through the pandemic has made me more certain than ever that medicine is the career for me. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to help people from across society in their most vulnerable moments, to be constantly pushed out of your comfort zone (as no two days are the same) whilst working as part of an inspirational team, with such incredible compassion for patients.

Oxford Unlocked

We’ve recently launched one of Tingewick’s most ambitious projects to date: the Oxford Unlocked raffle. We’ve got over 70 amazing prizes, collectively worth over £2000 and generously donated by 40 incredible local businesses. Prizes include tickets to the now sold out Truck Festival, a touring bike worth £850, a weekend away in the Cotswolds and a range of vouchers for a huge selection of Oxfordshire’s restaurants, shops and attractions. All money raised will be split between our two charities this year: Oxford Hospitals Charity and Calon Hearts.

You can find out more about Tingewick and enter the Oxford Unlocked raffle online before it closes on Monday 17 May.

Meirian in a mask and scrubs. Credits: Meirian Evans