I can still remember reading the news about how rampant and deadly the coronavirus was in China in 2020. At that time, the virus seemed distant, and little did we know it would soon spread like wildfire in our country. It has been more than a year since lockdown and as a final year student of the IMU Chiropractic programme, I can’t help but feel that the pandemic has robbed me of my campus experience. Having online lectures was fun initially as we could stay at home to attend classes without going to campus. As months passed by, it became harder to focus on the screen in front of me and that was the moment when I yearned to go back to campus and attend classes with my friends. I started to miss those days when I could hang out with my friends at The Mad Alchemy (a mini café at the University’s Driveway) before heading to annexe block for our next lecture. Not forgetting those 8am practical classes at Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre (CSSC) with everyone sleeping on the chiropractic tables before our lecturers arrived and switched on the lights. Those were the days that most of us had taken for granted and now all we could do was to relive those memories. Moving into clinical training was both exciting and scary to me. As the lockdown started in March 2020, we did not get to practice as much during our Semester 5 as all classes were conducted online. It did not affect me much initially. It was when I entered Semester 6 that I realized I was less than 6 months away from entering clinical internship. It was a crucial semester as it was a transition period to clinical training.
During the start of Semester 6, we managed to have our usual practical classes as the Covid-19 cases were under control but was soon halted due to the spike in cases. I thought that the pandemic would get better by the end of 2020 and it would be smooth sailing once clinic had started in 2021 but it was just the beginning.
It took me a month to adapt and to pick up the pace in the clinic. Just when everything seemed to finally be in place, we were told that clinic would be closed due to the daily spike in cases. Initially, it seemed like a good call as it could help to curb the spread of the virus. However, weeks passed by and even with the closure of most economic sectors the cases were still going up day by day. That was the moment that I realized that I had been under lockdown for nothing.
Fortunately, we we were able to resume our clinical training recently. I was grateful that some of the patients were still willing to continue their follow ups. However, there were patients that were not willing to return for follow ups due to the pandemic.
I was upset as I had lost most of the clinical training experience that I was looking forward to. There was a time when it actually bothered me so much that I started to doubt myself and if this lack of clinical experience would affect my competency in the future as a practitioner.
As much as I hate to admit, but COVID-19 is here to stay. No one knows if 2022 will be better or if COVID-19 will be gone in 5 years’ time. I have heard people saying that it is a bad time to graduate and with less than a year away from graduation, I feel more anxious moving forward. Even though the future may be uncertain, I believe that the challenges that we are facing will certainly shape us to be even better practitioner just as the saying goes when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Written by Saw Wei Qi