Monash medical students find creative way to help the community

COVID-19 has impacted us all in one way or another. For our students, it’s meant having to adjust to online learning from home. For some, it has meant changes to their part-time jobs, or their placements.

Despite all of these changes, a group of Victorian medical students have rallied together to support those in our community who may be struggling with the COVID-19 social isolation restrictions and simply need to chat.

Conversation in isolation’ is a student-run initiative established by final year Monash medical student, Stephanie McKelvie. It has over 100 volunteers (made up of primarily medical students), who are happy to lend an ear and have a chat with someone who may be experiencing  feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

“When my universe shrank to just my four-wall enclosure, I felt more connected to the world through these daily phone calls”, explains Elaine, a community member who signed up to ‘Conversation in isolation’ during her time in self isolation.

“I was never rushed off the phone and was allowed to express all my concerns and fears with absolute trust.  I know that being the repository for such sentiments can take a toll on a person and I am forever grateful to the medical student who took on the task and always soothed my nerves.”

The initiative has allowed students to think outside of the box and redefine what it means to help people, outside of a clinical placement environment.

Sophie, a third year medical student and volunteer shares how this experience has helped develop her communication skills as connecting with people is an integral part of any healthcare profession.

“My community member and I live in different places, are of different ages and have had such different life experiences so there’s never a dull moment! I feel like I’m constantly learning from her and we’ve formed an amazing friendship through the regular phone calls.

Overall, this experience has also informed my perspective going forward in my degree. Though the medical side of our chosen vocation is crucial, psychosocial welfare is also of utmost importance. This is not only for our patients’ holistic wellbeing, but it’s also a privilege to be welcomed into the lives of our patients.”

To find out more about this initiative, visit Conversation in isolation.