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COVID-19 MD Student Resources

The NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire

The Respiratory Virus Questionnaire (RVQ) should be used for three specific scenarios:

  • Respiratory illness symptoms and no confirmed diagnosis (you need a test)
  • To report a positive test result for COVID-19 (including a positive rapid at-home antigen test)
  • Recent exposure to COVID-19 at work

Policies, guidelines and resources you need to train safely and responsibly.

MD Student with patient

Clinical Activities Guidelines

Student Guidance & Guidelines

Need specific information? Hotlines are open to respond.

  • For campus concerns, contact Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's confidential, monitored hotline at 312-503-3437.
  • For information on testing options, fill out the NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire.  Additionally, you may call the NM COVID-19 Hotline at 312-47-COVID (312-472-6843) and follow the prompts.

Northwestern Medicine Guidelines

Northwestern Medicine offers a number of resources for training in clinical spaces through their Physician Forum.

PPE FAQS FOR NM WORKFORCEClinical FAQ for NM WorkforceVisit the NM Physician Forum Site

FAQ for Students

 What should I do if I have respiratory illness symptoms?

  • Stay home or go home if you are at work
  • Notify your Phase coordinator (M1s and M2s) or your Clerkship/Elective Selective Coordinator and Director (M3s and M4s) AND Allison Matricaria and Dr. Goldsmith
  • Fill out and submit the NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire (RVQ) as soon as you start to feel symptoms, unless you have ruled out COVID-19 by testing positive for another respiratory illness, such as flu, RSV or strep throat

 What should I do if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you were exposed to COVID-19 outside of work and do not have symptoms, you do not need to fill out the questionnaire.

If you have had a workplace exposure, you will need to fill out the NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire.

 What should I do if I have tested positive for a respiratory illness other than COVID-19 (e.g., influenza, RSV, etc.)?

  • You do not need to fill out the questionnaire.
  • Follow the below return-to-work guidance.

General return-to-work criteria for non-COVID-19 illness is as follows:


Confirmed FLU+

Confirmed RSV+

Other CLI/ILI Symptoms 1


  • Fever free < 100°F for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
  • Respiratory symptoms are significantly improved for 24 hours without the use of medication.


7 Days 4 High-Risk Units Only  2, 3

Not Required

Not Required

  1. For other CLI/ILI symptoms, return-to-work criteria includes: rule-out of COVID-19 with a negative PCR, and rule-out of flu for individuals who work on high-risk units (see notes 2 and 3).
  2. High-risk units apply to the following units on the NMH campus: All ICU and transplant units, including Prentice 14, 15 and 16; Feinberg 11E and 14E; and Galter 10 and 12.
  3. Any other unit at any NM hospital may be declared a high-risk unit at the discretion of Infection Prevention.
  4. To count days for return-to-work, the onset of symptoms happens on Day 0. Day 1 begins the next calendar day. For example: If symptoms begin on Sunday, Sunday is Day 0; Monday is Day 1; and the next Sunday is Day 7).

 How is COVID-19 spread?

  • COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person in respiratory droplets from someone who is infected.
  • The respiratory droplets are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, clears their throat, or talks.
  • Respiratory droplets carry the virus and can land in the mouths, noses, eyes and possibly be inhaled into the lungs of people nearby.
  • The respiratory droplets can survive on surfaces for up to 2-3 days. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people without symptoms (either prior to the development of symptoms or through asymptomatic cases).
  • It can take 2-14 days from the time of exposure to become symptomatic.

 What measures are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Northwestern Medicine (NM) clinical facilities?

  • In order to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and maintain a safe environment, NM has implemented universal masking in clinical spaces for all students, staff, faculty, patients, and visitors regardless of symptoms.
  • You will be asked to wear a mask upon entering and for the duration of your time in NM clinical facilities.
    Masks will be provided if needed.
  • NM has made changes to the visitor policies at inpatient and outpatient sites.

 What can I do to lower my risk of exposure to COVID-19?

  • Wear a mask.
  • Maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) whenever possible including when eating at work.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Get vaccinated.

 Can I participate in educational and clinical activities if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

  • If you are asymptomatic, you may continue to participate. We encourage you to remain masked while on campus if you have a known close-contact exposure. 
  • If you become symptomatic, fill out the NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire. Notify Dr. Goldsmith, Allison Matricaria and your ECMH preceptor/clerkship director/coordinator/phase coordinator as applicable. Do NOT report to the hospital/clinic/campus until you have been tested.

 What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chest pain, myalgias, fatigue, headache, GI symptoms (e.g. nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea), and new loss of taste or smell.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary in severity and some people with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic.
  • It can take 2-14 days from the time of exposure to become symptomatic.

 If I tested positive for COVID-19, when can I return to work?

You will not longer need to request Return to Work Clearance from the online questionnaire. Instead, please use the following guidance for return to work:
  • Complete the five-day COVID-19 isolation period (Day 0 is the day of symptom onset, or the date of the positive test, whichever comes first)-- you may return on Day 6 in most instances
  • Fever free < 100°F for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
  • Respiratory symptoms are significantly improved for 24 hours without the use of medication.
  • You must wear a respirator or tight-fitting surgical mask at all times through Day 10. Sit at least 6 feet apart from others before removing your mask to eat or drink.
  • You cannot work with patients who are immunocompromised until Day 11

 If I tested negative for COVID-19, when can I return to work?

If you are COVID-19 negative, including those who test positive for flu or RSV, you may return once the following criteria are met:
  • Fever free < 100°F for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
  • Respiratory symptoms are significantly improved for 24 hours without the use of medication.

 What if I test positive for flu and I am an M3/M4 on clinical rotations?

M3/M4 students with confirmed influenza must wait 7 days to return to work in High-Risk units (ICU, transplant units, including Prentice 14, 15, 16; Feinberg 11E and 14E; Galter 10 and 12). Please work with your rotation coordinator and director to make any necessary clinical scheduling adjustments.

 How do I get tested for COVID-19?

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or an exposure fill out the NM Respiratory Virus Questionnaire. If appropriate, an order will be placed in Epic and you will be notified via MyNM
  • We are located in the Central Region. Once an order for COVID-19 testing appears in your MyNM account you can proceed to the street level of the Lavin Pavillion (259 E Erie St) for walk-up or drive-through testing between the hours of 7am and 3pm.