Survey of German medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: attitudes toward volunteering versus compulsory service and associated factors.

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Due to the spread of COVID-19, a key challenge was to reduce potential staff shortages in the healthcare sector. Besides recruiting retired healthcare workers, medical students were considered to support this task. Commitment of medical students in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic was evaluated using an online survey, with particular focus on their burdens and anxieties. This survey was distributed to students within a 2-week period in April and May 2020. Ultimately, 1241 participants were included in the analysis. During the pandemic, 67.9% (65.3% to 70.5%) of the participants reported that they had volunteered. Furthermore, 88.9% (86.9% to 90.5%) stated that they were against compulsory recruitment in this context. Students who volunteered (committed students) had a significantly lower anxiety index than non-committed students. Additionally, students were more concerned about infecting other patients and relatives than themselves. Higher levels of anxiety were related to lower levels of commitment. A mandatory assignment during the pandemic was rejected by the students and does not seem to be necessary due to the large number of volunteers.

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Authors: Lorenz Mihatsch, Mira von der Linde, Franziska Knolle, Benjamin Luchting, Konstantinos Dimitriadis, Jens Heyn