Last updated: July 30, 2020, at 4:50 pm
This update supersedes all previous communications.
We are sharing the following with the caveat that information impacting decision-making changes rapidly given the evolving situation involving COVID-19. For additional COVID-19 information, please reference the COVID-19 Intranet site.
We empathize with any anxiety this creates. Please know that the faculty and staff are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of all those in our care while continuing to create the optimum learning environment.
New: Letter to PA and MD students about direct care of COVID-19 positive patients, Person Under Investigation (PUI) and Isolation Precautions patients
Good afternoon WFSM MD and PA Students,
We have been working very closely with our institutional COVID-19 Task Force for many months to assess our supply of and supply chain stability around Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As the supply and supply chain improved, we were able to place students in the clinical learning environment in early June.
In an effort to continue supporting PPE conservation, our initial approach to the clinical environment was associated with a restriction of student involvement in the direct patient care of any patients on Isolation Precautions for any reason, which included patients with COVID-19 and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs). We have continued to assess the PPE supply and supply chain, have reviewed the existing restrictions on students in the direct care of patients.
Based upon the current stability of our institutional PPE supply and supply chain, we are able to eliminate the existing restrictions on students participating in the direct care of patients on Isolation Precautions, which includes lifting the restrictions on students being involved in the direct care of COVID-19 positive patients and PUIs.
As a reminder, many rotations are currently limiting the number of people going into patient rooms and are still working to conserve PPE across the health system. Students will need to follow the instructions provided on each rotation regarding their involvement in direct patient care activities.
While we recognize that lifting these restrictions will be a welcomed change by many students to allow for a greater participation in the curriculum, there may be some students who are concerned about interacting with patients who would be on Isolation Precautions, specifically those with COVID-19 or who are PUIs. We emphasize that involvement with patients on Isolation Precautions requires the appropriate use of PPE in order to mitigate the risk of exposures to students.
While use of appropriate PPE is an effective mitigation strategy, if you are concerned about your personal health risks related to participating in your education program at this time, it is always appropriate to contact your personal medical provider to discuss your concerns. You may also contact Dr. Marcia Wofford, Associate Dean for Student Affairs or Dr. Tanya Gregory, Director of PA Student Services, to discuss your concerns and various options WFSM may have to offer. Additionally, you may contact the Wake Forest University Learning Assistance Center & Disability Services (LAC-DS) at 336-758-5929 if you feel the need to discuss potential disability accommodation requests.
We will continue to monitor the status of our institutional PPE supply and supply chain and modify our approach to PPE conservation efforts as the situation requires. At this time, the supply of PPE that is specifically utilized in the Operating Room setting is not as robust as the PPE that is utilized in the hospital and clinic setting. As such, while the patient restrictions are eliminated, those in charge of surgical rotations will still be implementing measures to conserve PPE during rotations, gradually advancing the ability to engage learners in that setting as the PPE supply becomes even more stable. Similarly, while there is adequate PPE in the hospital/clinic setting, MD students in Introduction to Patient Care courses (such as Clinical Skills) will not be participating in encounters with patients on Isolation Precautions in an effort to continue to conserve PPE. Additionally, opportunities for students to shadow other providers is still on hold and has not yet been approved to resume.
We look forward to having students become more broadly involved in the care of our patients and the increased learning opportunities this will afford.
C. Randall Clinch, DO, MS
Associate Dean, MD Program Academic Affairs & Professor, Family & Community Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine
L. Gail Curtis, PA-C, MPAS
Chair & Associate Professor, PA Studies
Wake Forest School of Medicine
- The Travel Portal is now only required for international and cruise ship travel.
- It is recommended that travel to visit extended family comply with current recommendations for social distancing, masking and hand hygiene to avoid possible interruptions in your education.
- The recommendation “before one leaves, please discuss back-to-work plans with your supervisor” should be interpreted for PA students as discussing with Professor Reich or Professor Curtis prior to travel.
Exposure is defined as:
- Person symptomatic, not masked and
- Within six feet for 15 minutes or greater and
- Employee not masked and/or
- Employee not wearing eye protection while person is excessively coughing and/or sneezing
- Clinical Work place exposure (defined as exposure while in the clinical setting
Employee/Student Guidance for Confirmed Workplace COVID-19 Exposures
- Community exposure (any exposure not in a clinical setting - e.g. all Wake PA buildings)
If you have been exposed to a COVID positive person, you MUST stay home, contact Employee Health and follow their instructions.
- Questionable exposure (exposure to a PUI [person under investigation] or other possible exposure)
If you have been possibly been exposed to COVID but are unsure, contact Employee Health and follow their instructions.
For any exposure, after contacting Employee Health, please also notify the program, Professors Reich, Curtis or Bodner (clinical year) and Ms. Amy Simpson, Registrar
Please check your email regularly for program or COVID updates.
Information about participating in direct patient care/clinical rotations. Students:
- Will utilize health system PPE appropriately during direct patient care, including face shields. Use of PPE by students will mirror the use of PPE by all others in our health system. Students will utilize medical grade face masks (e.g. Ear Loop surgical masks) while working in our health system facilities. Specific PPE use will be guided by the type of patient care being provided and may include the use of N95/KN95 respirators, face shields or goggles, and other PPE items as appropriate. See the institutional guidance on Masks and Appropriate Use of PPE and the reminder by Drs. Freischlag and High that masks are to be worn at all times in our health system facilities.
- Will follow all institutional guidance about reporting exposures and/or illness to Employee Health.
- Will actively engage with their preceptor in both the direct care and the virtual care of patients.
- Note: no separate supply of PPE exists for students in WFSM degree-granting programs; students will continue to utilize health system PPE.
- Note: There is no single piece of PPE that is restricted for student use. By restricting students from the direct care of certain patient types and isolation categories at this time, we are assisting with the conservation of PPE. If the stated restrictions are applied and the direct care of a patient still warrants the use of a particular component of PPE (e.g., use of an N95 or KN95 mask; use of goggles), students are to be provided the appropriate PPE for involvement in direct patient care. No protection, no participation.
Check your email regularly for program or COVID updates.
- Preclinical education is occurring in a hybrid fashion with select sessions on campus with appropriate masking and distancing. This practice is continually assessed and may change at any time.
- Review new COVID-19 student testing and reporting process above.
- Remember to wear a surgical grade mask when on campus. You will receive a new supply of masks (5) each month. Unless damaged, masks can be worn for one week prior to discarding. If extenuating circumstances find you without a mask, please ask any faculty or staff to help you.