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Pandemic inspires a new generation of health care workers

Posted at 1:53 PM, Jul 10, 2020

This year's pandemic could have a long-term impact on our country's healthcare system. The crisis is inspiring a new generation of health care professionals.

"Growing up, I was always pretty interested in science. I have a few family members who are in medicine and nursing," said University of Colorado fourth-year medical student Lauren Heery. "Helping people through my direct knowledge as a scientist, and now as a medical student, was I think what interested me the most."

She, like many medical students across the country, has found herself in a unique situation because of the pandemic.

"As all of the COVID things happened, as medical students, we’re not able to continue with our clinical rotation, just given the increased risk to us, the patients, and limited supplies that needed to be prioritized for staff," said Heery.

So, she shifted gears and ultimately made the decision to spend a year researching the virus.

"I got involved with a few projects with the infectious disease division at University Hospital, as I was sitting on my hands waiting to get back into the clinical setting," said Heery.

One of those projects is looking at the racial and ethnic disparities in the disease.

"Coronavirus kind of came together with a lot of my interests that I had been kind of working on. But the pandemic really fueled me to do something a little bit different and try to help figure things out," said Heery.

With thousands of medical students having to change their plans, Heery is not alone. But because of the pandemic, she says she has a renewed appreciation for her chosen field.

"Just hearing the frontline stories from the people who I know who have been working in the hospital during this time, just has made me so grateful that I am going into this profession," said Heery.