Medical students at MU School of Medicine’s Springfield Clinical Campus (SCC) volunteered in December to aid the local health department in collecting contact tracing data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It was so interesting to have the chance to help and observe public health professionals with this epidemiological project,” said Evan Garrad, a third-year medical student studying at the Springfield Clinical Campus.
Evan volunteered to help along with Wyatt Whitman, Tricia Haynes and Spencer Price. The medical students were ideal volunteers because of their experience conducting talking to patients and respecting patient privacy.
The student volunteers set up a temporary call center at the Springfield Clinical Campus building. They called the families of local K-12 students who had come in contact with other COVID-19-positive students. They gathered information from students about the mitigation strategies at their schools and if they wore masks and maintained safe social distances in public.
The medical students conducted their calls late into the evening after spending their days learning in clinical rotations and wrapped up the data collection in less than a week.
“We have some amazing medical students, and I think it says a lot that they would willingly volunteer their evenings and weekends to help with contact tracing,” said David Haustein, MD, associate dean of the Springfield Clinical Campus. “This is a great learning opportunity for our students and one of the ways we hope to support our community through the continuing pandemic.”
The SCC students have plans to again contribute to CDC efforts on the Springfield area in the future, this time to gather more information over a longer period of time and with additional school districts to understand relationships between mitigation measures and secondary transmission.
“We appreciate MU Med students’ help with contact tracing. With their support, we will be able to quickly notify those who are exposed to COVID-19 and learn more about transmission in schools,” said Mary Claire Worrell, MPH, an CDC epidemiologist. “The information learned through this investigation will help schools and local health authorities ensure the safest possible environments for students.”