COVID-19 causes university to suspend biology capstone research, job shadowing

Biology+student%2C+Darby+McCloud%2C+only+completed+40+of+her+originally+scheduled+90+hour+capstone%2C+due+to+concerns+of+coronavirus.+

Melissa McCloud

Biology student, Darby McCloud, only completed 40 of her originally scheduled 90 hour capstone, due to concerns of coronavirus.

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An email sent to all capstone biology students at Marshall University stated all capstone research and job shadowing opportunities were suspended due to safety measures associated with COVID-19.

Research and job shadowing are integral parts of the college experience and even more crucial in applying to graduate programs like medical school, a dream of hers, said Darby McCloud, a senior biology student.

“I never thought going into this capstone that there could be a time where I am asked not to job shadow because something is so prevalent,” McCloud said.

For her capstone, McCloud chose to shadow a physician in Lavalette to fulfill the required 90 hours and get the experience of being immersed in the field, she said. Due to the coronavirus cutting this experience short, she was only able to complete 40 hours.

“Realizing that I’m not going to get to complete my capstone, my 90 hours of shadowing a physician, I am afraid that (medical schools) are going to think I didn’t job shadow enough,” she said.

McCloud said she hopes that this is only worrying and medical schools will be accommodating because of coronavirus side effects, but it is still a fear. Aside from affecting her capstone, the coronavirus has also affected a source of her income as an undergraduate research assistant.

“Our lab got shut down a week before spring break to be cautious about COVID-19,” McCloud said. “So, not only am I out of the experience of being a physician which is what I want to do, but I’m put out of one of the jobs I have on campus.”

Though McCloud has lost both experience following a physician and the income from her research position, she said she understands Marshall’s decision and welcomes the sacrifice to slow the spread of the disease.

“Marshall in general and Marshall’s science program, especially with our capstones, is handling it in a very reasonable manner,” she said. “I think it was a good decision to do the whole online learning.”

McCloud said she is thankful for how understanding her professors have been with issues of internet access or project extensions. For job shadowing capstone, the college chose to base student’s grades off the hours they did complete understanding the effect the coronavirus had on their experience, she said.

“With what Marshall has previously planned for and the circumstances that we’ve had so far, I think they’ve been very good at accommodating students,” she said.

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected].