These attacks are a threat not only towards HCWs themselves, but towards the entire healthcare systems. Additional range of incidents reported includes direct attacks on teaching locations of medical universities in Kharkiv, Sumi, Donetsk and Lugansk; indirect attacks inhibiting students’ access to medical education, due to severe armed combat or occupation of the territory by troops of russian federation.
The attacks on medical education have a shocking effect on healthcare services as they affect the development of HCWs workforce which are already under troubling and serious shortages. Even though this problem is really complex, the main focus is the need of patients to gain access to healthcare which is part of Human Right to Health in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law (IHRL). This law also applies to protecting the right to education.
The Ukrainian health system depends on its educational structures, which facilitates training of an adequate supply of health professionals. Inadequate levels of physicians are associated with increased burden of disease and a reduction in health system performance. The impact of the russian invasion on medical education and as result on inadequate health system performance now and in the future is unquestionable.
We, as brave team of Kyiv Medical University (hereinafter-KMU) wondered what we could do to address these problems. Given the complex nature of the threats it is impossible to solve the problem ourselves in Ukraine. Together with the EU partners we can undertake a brave mission “Medical Education in Ukraine under Fire: Healthcare in Danger”. The main goal of the mission is to save the next generation HCWs and also assuring continuation of their training. Our community is very unique and diverse that is why we always look for extraordinary solutions. Since the foundation in 1992, collectively a diverse skill set of our team, way of thinking, experiences, idea generation and problem solving helps to train the next generation healthcare workers. Throughout those 30 years, the sphere of our competence is higher medical education majoring in Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy on Master’s level as well as Postgraduate training in 22 specialties.
What we can do is to relocate a part of the KMU community to the EU to organize a Summer Clinical Practical (Clerkship). So, we need your support in providing access to healthcare facilities to our students and appointing a coordinator among your staff, who together with KMU clinical staff will be guiding our students.
Considering that students and early-grade doctors are planned to be relocated this summer, one of the additional constraints is having a housing option for them during this practice. Therefore, kindly inform us what the possibilities in providing temporary housing are.
Direct violence by russian occupants in the ongoing war, an insecure environment and damaged medical infrastructure resulting from attacks have also led to increases in the migration rate of HCWs, thus already having negative economic implications of medical brain drain. As a consequence, faced with a choice between unremitting insecurity or fleeing, many medical students and physicians choose to interrupt their studies.
To compensate for the shortage of qualified healthcare providers, medical students and early-grade doctors were forced to cease their training to provide healthcare, despite the fact that they did not have full qualifications. This portends an important gap in supply of skilled medical doctors in coming years. More immediately, as many such providers worked beyond their training and skills, taking on more responsibility without the basic training and mentorship, patients are obviously at risk, particularly when health workers are forced to manage war trauma and chemical attacks. This crisis also reduced access to educational medical books and academic exchange and drove down academic and clinical standards. Additionally, medical schools are now facing challenges in staff recruitment and adequate resource provision.
During the crisis, health must remain a priority pillar, with future HCWs being protected so they can continue to study and subsequently save lives. In such an uncertain and tragic situation, we hope that all doctors around the globe will STAND WITH UKRAINE and support future healthcare workers of our country.
The KMU team is already working in the EU in order to arrange clinical practices in hospitals, pharmacies and dental clinics of Poland, Germany, Austria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries of the European Union. So, starting from May, 2022 we will invite students to a clinical practice. This practice will be a mandatory component of summer clerkship (like it usually takes place in Ukraine, just in Europe;)). Moreover, understanding the uncertainty of the situation for medical students from all the Ukraine, we DO NOT limit this great opportunity to KMU cohorts only – we invite all international students to join and have the best summer practice ever!
One of our favorite motto: "We start the path to Europe from our University" now has a real opportunity to come true! Students will be our ambassadors, and the European community will help in this.
In addition, you will have the opportunity for one-year international academic mobility after the practice. We will invite the whole community of students and residents of Kyiv Medical University to join this mission. During your time in the EU you will be taught by the best educators of both Ukraine and leading doctors and educators from Europe. At this time, we encourage everyone to study hard, attend online classes, be active students and become even better, because the future of medicine depends on you!