Rapid Mobilization of Medical Students to Provide Health Care Workers with Emergency Childcare during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Emily C.A. Lane, Audrey A. Tran, Christian J. Graulty, Tracy Bumsted

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Problem In March 2020, the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic spread rapidly within the United States and began overwhelming the health care system. To conserve personal protective equipment, reduce the spread of the virus, and keep student learners safe, leaders of medical schools across the country made the difficult decision to suspend in-person clinical experiences. As medical students were sent home and hospital systems ramped up their response to the virus, many essential health care workers (HCWs) faced an immediate challenge. As "nonessential" services such as schools and daycare centers abruptly closed, HCWs serving on the frontlines in inpatient settings needed a way to both fight the pandemic and care for their children. Approach Medical students at Oregon Health & Science University were able to rapidly OR organize to provide childcare for essential HCWs. For roughly 8 weeks following the state of emergency (March 13 through May 15, 2020), students used Twitter and emerging technology to match families in need of childcare with a trainee volunteer. Outcomes By May 15th, the service had successfully fulfilled 181 of the 202 requests for childcare (90%) over the course of 8 weeks. Of the 181 completed childcare requests, 172 (95%) were fulfilled by an individual (1:1 volunteer-to-household pairing), and 9 (5%) were fulfilled by 2 or more volunteers. Next Steps The trainees who provided childcare will apply the skills learned (e.g., clear communication, grassroots organizing, triaging, leveraging new technology) to patient care. Broader applications for this system include organizing volunteers to conduct contract tracing or to provide public health information in languages other than English. Future research includes examining the effect of the service on the productivity, morale, and mental health of both those who provided and received childcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1302-1305
Number of pages4
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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