9 June 2020

COVID-19 and Higher Education: Interview with Hana Ibrahim

UNESCO estimates that over 1.5 billion students in 165 countries are out of school due to COVID-19. The pandemic has forced the global academic community to explore new ways of teaching and learning, including distance and online education. This has proven challenging for both students and educators, who have to deal with the emotional, physical and economic difficulties posed by the illness while doing their part to help curb the spread of the virus.  The future is uncertain for everyone, particularly for millions of students scheduled to graduate this year who will face a world crippled economically by the pandemic. 

In the COVID-19 and higher education series, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) talks to students, educators and researchers in different parts of the world to find out how COVID-19 has affected them and how they are coping with the changes. The series also highlights lessons learned and potential positive outcomes of the global lockdown for higher education.

In this interview we talk to Hana Ibrahim, a medical student at the University of Paris, who has been volunteering at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Lariboisière Hospital in Paris during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hana is 21 years old and is in the middle of her practical training, but when the pandemic started many departments of the hospital, including the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology where she works, were closed and those resources diverted to treating patients with COVID-19. Seeing the struggle that the Intensive Care and Infectious Disease departments were going through with the overwhelming number of patients pouring in, Hana decided to volunteer for the ICU, despite her heavy academic commitments.

Listen to our interview with Hana, in which she shares with us her story of being a medical student and a volunteer during a global health emergency, including the extraordinary levels of mental and physical pressure and concerns that many members of the public don’t realize the gravity of the situation. Hana has also thought about changing her medical specialty as a result of this experience.

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