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Published: 2020-03-23 15:29 | Updated: 2020-04-03 15:51

Infection poses challenge to KI students

The spread of the coronavirus is presenting a particular challenge to Karolinska Institutet’s students. Clinical placements will continue as far as is practicable.

Portrait of Annika Östman Wernerson.
Annika Östman Wernerson. Photo: Erik Flyg

“In terms of education, KI will of course be following the recommendations that the government has issued to higher education institutions, and we must do all we can not to spread the virus,” says Annika Östman Wernerson, academic vice president for education. “We must also continue to be able to perform our societal mission by meeting the personnel needs of the healthcare sector. The students are a valuable resource in this respect, and it gives them an opportunity to graduate as planned.”

A fundamental principle of education at KI is that the course syllabi are followed and intended learning outcomes realised, but under the present circumstances, KI’s teaching methods and forms of examination might need changing.

Students on work or clinical placements are obliged to comply with the instructions issued by their employers.

Placements are important

“Without a completed clinical placement, a student won’t be able to reach the intended learning outcomes and obtain a passing grade on the relevant courses,” Wernerson says.  “It’s especially important for students approaching the end of their studies and hoping to graduate.”

Postponing a clinical placement can cause considerable problems, for which KI’s education representatives and the outlying society need to find solutions.

“It could be very difficult to create placements this summer as we don’t know how the covid-19 virus will spread, and if they’re postponed until the autumn, the places available will fall short of the demand,” she continues.

Competence supply in health care

All in all, there is a danger that the spread of covid-19 will hamper the supply of healthcare workers in skill-shortage professions, such as nurses, specialist nurses (all categories), doctors and biomedical lab scientists, in both the short and long term.

“We hope that hospitals and clinics will see students as a resource,” says Wernerson. “Their supervision and the content of their courses might not exactly match expectations, but it could be a valuable experience for the students and a welcome opportunity and a resource for the various functions of the healthcare sector.”