Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Florida Medical Students’ Wellbeing and Academic Experience During “Lockdown”

Author(s): Shadi A. Baajour, Waseem Wahood, Kate J. F. Carnevale

Introduction: The global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has continued to demonstrate considerable impacts on all aspects of life, as well as mental health across populations. Medical students may be considered a particularly vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the compounding mental stress of a demanding medical education.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was designed for medical students in the state of Florida, USA, to collect their perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on their personal daily habits, perceived social connectedness, academic outlook, and anxiety levels using a General Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scale.

Results: From the ten medical schools in Florida, 96 students responded. 94% of student respondents felt the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their academic experience, but only 55% of students felt their medical school adequately mitigated the negative effect of the pandemic on their education, psychological well-being, and personal health. GAD-7 analysis revealed 36 students with mild, 15 with moderate, and 6 with severe anxiety symptoms. Students rated interruption of daily habits and feeling others were not following health guidelines as the most influential factors for their increased anxiety. Factors related to decreased anxiety were communication with family, practicing relaxation techniques, and avoiding public exposure.

Discussion: Increased levels of anxiety were common amongst students during the pandemic. Students should be encouraged to seek appropriate resources and outlets to mitigate the effects of anxiety on their psychological well-being and academic success.

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