Students pursuing a medical degree at the College of Medicine – Tucson are fitted annually with medical-grade personal protective gear, such as N95 masks and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR hoods), before entering the clinical environment. During this year’s spring fitting, student-volunteers assisted their peers with mask-fit testing, allowing them to get hands-on experience, learn more about occupational health and earn CUP hours, which count towards CUP program credit and additionally a distinction track certificate. A total of 120 students were fitted for masks.
College of Medicine – Tucson Senior Program Coordinators Travis Garner, Jennifer Yelich and Hildi Williams spearheaded the mask fit-testing processes, policies and provision of supplies. Williams is the coordinator for the student-led Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program, which brought medical students into the mask-fit testing process, training them to ensure protective equipment properly fits users. Additionally, the team at UArizona Occupational Health including Timothy Gustafson and Dr. Harry McDermott (CUP COM Mask Fit Testing Program advisor), provided advice, time and guidance, training students to do mask fit-testing and assisting the students with testing.
How COVID-19 changed the clinical experience
In March 2020, in response to the pandemic, students were taken out of their clinical experiences until June 1, when first- and second-year students resumed patient encounters at the bedside. Program facilitators at the College of Medicine – Tucson worked closely with clinical partners to confirm criteria for students to return to the clinical environment.