"Glad to be able to do something meaningful"

Clara Philippi is a medical student and works in an A&E unit. She talks about her daily routine and her plans for the future.

Clara Philippi, medical student in Hamburg
Clara Philippi, medical student in Hamburg Maria Schmitt

Clara Philippi is a sixth-semester student of medicine in an integrated model study course. Since mid-March 2020, the 23-year-old has been working as a student assistant at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). Here she explains how the coronavirus has changed her work and her plans.

"My first day in the vaccination clinic at the UKE was also my last. When the lockdown started, no one needed vaccinations for travelling abroad any more. I switched to the accident and emergency unit (A&E).

For most of the people who came to hospital at the beginning of the pandemic, wearing a mask was something completely new. First I showed them how to put the mask on properly. Even today, I still sometimes speak to people on the metro who are wearing their masks wrongly.

It was incredibly quiet in the hospital at first. We were very well staffed and didn't have much to do. It was a weird atmosphere. Was this the calm before the storm? Would the situation soon become a lot more drastic? I was worried by the rising number of infections. We were given instructions on how A&E would be reorganized if there was an increase in admissions of suspected Covid-19 cases. It was exciting to experience how the UKE prepared for the worst-case scenarios. I was glad to be able to do something meaningful at this difficult time and not to be sitting at home on my own.

All university courses online for the time being

Since the end of August, I have been working in the coronavirus outpatient clinic and taking swabs from staff. For a maximum of two hours at a time I wear the full protective gear: gown, hairnet, FFP2 mask and visor. After that you first need to take a long, deep breath. The mask fits so tightly that it leaves a mark on my face afterwards.

I've always wanted to be a doctor, and that goal hasn't changed.

Clara Philippi, medical student in Hamburg

I've always wanted to be a doctor, and that goal hasn't changed. There's a long way to go yet, though. I'm taking a semester off to start my doctoral thesis, because all the university courses are being held online, also in the winter semester, and there won't be any practical exercises either. I hope we can get back to studying normally again sometime.

Health has become even more important to me as a result of the coronavirus. I value my own health and the German health system. And even if some things are not right and care workers, for example, should be paid much better, we are a privileged country."

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