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Virtual volunteers: the importance of restructuring medical volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Zachary Pickell1,2,
  2. Kathleen Gu1,
  3. Aaron M Williams2
  1. 1 Department of Biology, University of Michigan, College of Literature Science and the Arts, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2 Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Aaron M Williams, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; willaaro{at}


Healthcare systems have postponed medical volunteering services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, much of the aid provided by these volunteers is crucial to patient care and hospital functioning in the American healthcare system. The adoption of online video conferencing platforms in healthcare—telehealth—offers a novel solution for volunteering during this pandemic. Virtual volunteering can alleviate pressures on medical workers, enhance patient experiences, reduce the risk of viral infection and provide a sense of normalcy for patients and families. Although further study is required, this should be an avenue considered by health systems.

  • medical humanities
  • health policy
  • medical education
  • end of life care
  • health care education

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  • Contributors ZP and KG drafted the manuscript. ZP, KG and AMW significantly contributed to the conceptualisation and revision of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.