Module 6: Training for Potential Clinical Roles

Develop technical know-how in preparation for roles that medical students may play in the clinical setting.

Authors: James Agolia; Taylor Brown; Fang Cao; Ashwini Joshi; Soumyaa Mazumder; Katherine McDaniel, MSc; Niyi Odewade; Sarah Onorato; Alexander Ordoobadi; Simone Sasse; Sanjana Srinivasan; Rachel Weitzman; Denston Carey, Jr.

Editor: Bina Kassamali

Reviewers: Jeremy B. Richards, MD; Harvey Simon, MD; Clyde Crumpacker, MD; Christian Larsen, MD; Jennifer Potter, MD; Eve Rittenberg, MD; Nhi-Ha Trinh, MD, MPH; Andrea Wershof Schwartz, MD, MPH

Update Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting Module 6! Due to the wide availability of high-quality resources at the medical student level, we are no longer updating this module regularly. We hope that the material, including our learning objectives, cases, and thought questions can still be useful as an educational resource. If you find that material is incorrect or that a link is broken, please do let us know by emailing

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted numerous questions as to how best to prepare medical students to engage in efforts to stop the disease. This sixth module guides the reader through relevant information to smooth the transition onto hospital floors and play important roles in the clinic. Protocols regarding testing, triage, and PPE use for managing COVID-19 are constantly evolving at an institutional, state, and federal level.

In short, PPE minimizes exposures to hazards that result in serious infectious illnesses by creating a barrier between the healthcare worker and the infectious agent. For COVID-19, gloves protect the hands, gowns protect skin and clothing, masks and respirators protect nose and mouth, and goggles and face shields protect eyes and the entire face. It is important to develop an understanding of how to safely put on, take off, and, at least currently, re-use such equipment to minimize the contraction and continued spread of the virus.

The next section covers basic mechanical ventilator settings and modes, with an emphasis on ARDS. While students are unlikely to be directly involved in mechanical ventilator management of patients, a fundamental understanding of mechanical ventilator function may be useful for communicating with healthcare providers and as a foundation for further patient care.

In addition to providing relevant information regarding PPE use, triaging, and mechanical ventilator function, this module aims to inform medical students about ways to support healthcare workers. Examples of clinical and non-clinical opportunities include phone triage for patient care and community initiatives to donate PPE. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of hygiene while serving in clinical settings to ensure the safety of yourself and those with whom you live.

Finally, these are stressful, even traumatic times. Just as you protect your physical health, protecting your mental health and wellbeing is equally as important. This final section of this module instructs on ways to protect your own wellbeing and that of loved ones and colleagues using the principles of trauma-informed care.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, medical students should be able to:

  • Be able to choose appropriate form of PPE and become confident in its usage. Describe an algorithm by which patients with suspected COVID-19 should be tested

  • Appreciate the many ways that you may be exposed to COVID19 and how to maintain proper hygiene behaviors and practices to minimize this risk to yourself and others

  • Explain how mechanical ventilation is managed in patients with ARDS

  • Appreciate the wide variety of student roles in clinical and non-clinical settings during this pandemic

  • Describe how pandemic conditions, as a traumatic exposure, may affect the mental and physical health of healthcare workers and trainees

  • Using principles of trauma-informed care, develop a personalized action plan to stay well and work effectively in clinical settings and at home

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