As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge worldwide, citizens are looking for different ways to cope with fear and uncertainty, protect their loved ones, and forge ahead while frontline healthcare workers are boldly risking their own health and safety to help care for others.

American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA), a UNAI member institution in Antigua and Barbuda, has many alumni serving in healthcare fields. The university is committed to supporting underserved communities and addressing the impending physician shortage with an emphasis on primary care and training the next generation of healthcare professionals to respond to global healthcare needs.

This pandemic has required AUA alumni to put their best skills to work as they race to help flatten the curve against the novel coronavirus. One AUA alumnus, Dr. Vamsi Nukala (Class of 2012), is working with primary care patients in the United States and explains how his practice has changed in the last few weeks. “We have revamped how we do medicine to protect our patients, staff and ourselves, and we had to learn a whole new way to treat patients even by telephone and video calls,” he explains.

Many other AUA alumni are working directly on the front lines of the pandemic in critical care units and hospitals. Dr. Bilal Khan (Class of 2011), also in the United States, shares what it is like to work directly with patients who are battling this disease: “We are not talking about reinventing the wheel – we are actually inventing the wheel because we have never dealt with a crisis like this or a virus like this, so everything is new,” he says. Dr. Khan credits the training he received while studying at AUA for his ability to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. “I would not be here and be able to care for my patients,” he stresses.

According to the university, physicians and healthcare workers are in high demand and likely will be for quite some time. “With the challenges and changes of this critical time, it is important to observe how COVID-19 leaves its impact on medical education and in the careers of medical students,” Gerald J. Wargo Jr., Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, Admissions and Marketing, highlights.

Given the ongoing need for trained medical personnel, Dr. Robert Mallin, University Provost, underlines the added value of the institution’s graduates. “Our alumni make us all proud in that besides being committed and outstanding doctors, efficient in their respective fields of specialization and with the required theoretical and practical knowledge to properly work, they also have empathy and respect for their fellow humans,” he says.