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Wayne State University - School of Medicine

To the School of Medicine Community:

The Wayne State University School of Medicine has maintained the importance of the clinical training of our students during the current pandemic as it has for 150 years through many similar events. Our students in these weeks have performed admirably and professionally amid much confusion as the hospitals, health systems and the nation in general have struggled with the unknown, unpredictable and unprecedented.

Effective March 17, 2020, reluctantly, but in the spirit of what is momentarily best for our patients, and in compliance with the Association of American Medical Colleges guidance sent today, we will pause the in-person patient clinical experiences of all WSU medical students for a two-week period ending March 31, 2020. We will use these two weeks to restructure and optimize the clinical role of medical students as it relates to both patient care and educational experiences in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. All students will return to clinical settings April 1, 2020.

Although the pulling of students from clinical sites is unprecedented and undesired, we do so with the definite objective to continue with an increased role for student participation in the care of patients.

This pause will allow time for our clinical partners to define the clinical activities and clinical services. We will together institute procedures, protocols and protection for caring for this new group of patients while continuing to care for current patients with significant medical needs. And we will work with our clinical partners to define student roles with opportunities for both increased learning and service to patients.

From the AAMC Guidance on Medical Students’ Clinical Participation:
Recognizing these extraordinary circumstances, starting immediately, the AAMC strongly supports our member medical schools in placing, at minimum, a two-week suspension on their medical students’ participation in any activities that involve patient contact.

This recommendation is jointly issued by the AAMC and LCME.

The rationale for and goals of this temporary suspension are summarized below:
1. First and foremost, this temporary suspension will allow medical schools a window of opportunity to develop and implement appropriate programs to fully educate all their students for their return to clinical rotations with (a) up-to-date information on COVID-19; and (b) appropriate steps in place to ensure their own and their patients’ safety.

2. Second, this temporary suspension will contribute to the conservation of personal protective equipment (PPE) across our institutions. The full extent and likely trajectory of COVID-19 will become better understood as more widespread testing is implemented.

During this two-week pause, the Wayne State University School of Medicine will work with our students and clinical partners to identify new opportunities for student involvement. Students will become expert in the science of the current pandemic and be a resource for clinical practices. With the stabilization of the medical care system, our students will jump into their roles as active members of the health care team.

We appreciate that this interruption and reorganization in student education raises concerns for students about timely graduation and progression through the curriculum. We will work with the rest of the university community, the LCME and national organizations to ensure that the timeline of our graduates joining the physician ranks is uninterrupted. But most of all we recognize that WSU students, with their energy, devotion and passion for the care of their patients and community, are disappointed and distressed by this pause. The mission of the Wayne State University School of Medicine remains focused on continuing our long tradition of seamless service and selfless contribution to our patients and communities.

Jack D. Sobel, M.D.
Distinguished Professor
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Richard Baker, M.D.
Vice Dean of Medical Education
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Herbert Smitherman Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Vice Dean of Diversity and Community Affairs
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Margit Chadwell, M.D., FAAFP
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Christopher Steffes, M.D.
Assistant Dean for Clinical Education
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Senthil Kumar Rajasekaran, M.D., M.M.H.P.E.
Senior Associate Dean for Curricular Affairs and Undergraduate Medical Education
Wayne State University School of Medicine

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