The coronavirus on Smart Talk Tuesday: Medical students expand role with COVID-19 and contact tracing our way out of the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed in the US, education programs were impacted along with every other facet of society.

As schools closed and went online, it appeared that the instruction process would slow down in medical schools, too. Medical schools are, after all, part of medical centers that were ramping up for a COVID-19 response.

The Penn State College of Medicine saw opportunity in this challenge; expand education for medical students and harness the power of their skills, at the same time.

Joining Smart Talk on Tuesday to share how the college organized to enable students to contribute to the pandemic response are Dr. Jed Gonzalo, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate dean of health systems science education. He joins the program, along with medical students Caleb Frank and Lindsay Buzzelli.

Contact tracing is a disease control measure used by public health officials for many years to fight the spread of disease.

The process involves identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person, then collecting information about them and who they may have encountered.

Contact tracing is labor intensive. It is also a key strategy to opening the economy and stopping the spread of the coronavirus.  

Community health departments are well-versed in process of contact tracing and may be integral to any state-wide plan. Appearing on Smart Talk to talk about the details of contact tracing is Dr. Matthew Howie, MD, Medical Director, City of York Bureau of Health.