Alli Pfister (Class of 2023)

COVID-19 Reflection:

Biology and Premedical StudiesAlli Pfister

When I first heard about COVID-19, me and every other student around me thought that it was just something to give us two weeks off of classes in the middle of a tough semester. Quickly, though, the atmosphere changed as we all said our goodbyes and moved off of campus for the remainder of the semester- for some, the next year and a half. It is also notable that this drastic change with new information flying in every hour occurred in the middle of midterms for pre-health students. With professors, students, and seemingly administration not knowing what to do or how to adapt to the new online learning format, this midterm week did not go smoothly or as planned for anybody. With every course having different modes of instruction, syllabi alterations, and deadline modifications, it was another credit hour or two of simply refiguring your course load as a student.

My classmates and I eventually adapted to our new normal of being off-campus, having online classes in various formats- live and recorded lectures, pre-recorded videos, and even unorthodox methods like class via Google Docs. I and many others struggled to stay motivated in the first months of the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown for many reasons. We were no longer in an academic environment where our professors and fellow students encouraged and challenged us to be our best and grow academically, professionally, and personally. It also did not help that all opportunities to meet people, network, and gain experience in the healthcare field were stripped from us due to necessary COVID-19 regulations. Pre-health students struggled to find any way to shadow, work, volunteer, or even simply talk to healthcare professionals due to their increased workload. With these things out of reach, I and others found it hard to keep our end goals in sight and keep working toward them, especially since deadlines for reopening kept extending farther and farther into the future, with no end in sight.

            Now, over a year since the pandemic first shut down the U.S. and sent me home early from my first year of college, there is a new normal at Miami for pre-health students. Some of us are back in classes or labs, but not everybody, and not like normal. Organic chemistry students can go to an actual lab once a month, my physiology lab is fully online, and students have found virtual or limited in-person opportunities. Despite these continued setbacks, I see the overarching theme of this pandemic to be perseverance and resilience. The pre-health community at Miami and across the country came together to help provide support in more ways than one. Virtual study groups with students, health care professionals creating and offering virtual shadowing and remote volunteering, and pre-health students training and working on the frontlines of the pandemic are just a few of the ways I have witnessed pre-health students adapt, overcome, and persevere despite unprecedented circumstances. The way we have risen to the challenge and found ways to continue learning, growing, and gaining experience in healthcare will only serve to empower and motivate us in our future careers, as well I believe we will make amazing doctors in whatever capacity we choose because of this experience.