Four Things Medical Educators Are Doing to Adapt to COVID-19

By Vince Munoz, STFM

While most COVID-19 news coverage has centered around clinical and systemic challenges in the American health care system, medical education has also been disrupted. To help disseminate actionable information as quickly as possible, we’ve asked educators on our member forum how they’re adapting their teaching practices to clinical considerations regarding the novel coronavirus. Here’s what some of them had to say: 

1.) We have sent our M4 students to work (for elective credit) at the local health department. They perform surveillance of COVID-19 cases, educate the public via online communications, and help the health department trace pockets where COVID is located. They work from the health department headquarters under the supervision of an MD infectious disease epidemiologist. The objectives are not yet written due to the nature of this abrupt change. This is a way to expand our base for managing this disease.

 – Stuart Goldman MD, Chair of Family Medicine, Rosalind Franklin University 

2.) I’m a Faculty at a family medicine residency and M3M4 clerkship director.  My work is shifting my attention to telehealth, as we are looking hard at ways to protect our residents and students.  AAMC has dropped the news to move all medical education including M3 and M4 out of the clinical arena. I’m looking for ways to continue some aspects of their curriculum via telehealth. On the clinic side, we’re trying to throw together a structure for residents to move to telemedicine.

Joy Shen-Wagner MD FAAFP, Clerkship Director and FM POCUS Director, University of South Carolina SOM Greenville/Prisma Health 

3.) I created a learning/discussion module that residents or medical students can work on virtually or individually.  It has readings about how the Coronavirus pandemic is worsened by inequality and health disparities (endangering everyone).  The activity promotes conversation around what kind of policies could be put into action to improve public health and reduce risk for all Americans.  I think this is a moment when COVID is making us realize how inequality doesn’t only hurt the poor. In addressing the current pandemic there are opportunities for long lasting change (like the recent bill for paid sick leave).

Jen Flament, Swedish Cherry Hill Family Medicine Residency Faculty, Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill 

4.) Students are doing telemedicine visits – they get history, pend orders, present to attending while the patient watches, and the student then writes notes. Some attendings observe the entire visit, write their note as the visit progresses and have a great feedback/teaching opportunity.

We also have students help patients transition to telemedicine visits. We have done very little telemedicine here, so we have a steep learning curve for our patients. Some of our students have called patients to educate them about telemedicine, discuss doing their upcoming visit that way, help them load zoom onto their devices, and problem solving microphone function. The loading/problem solving step is taking a lot of time and students are better at walking patients through that than any one in our offices!​

Robert Hatch, Director of Medical Student Education, University of Florida

One response to “Four Things Medical Educators Are Doing to Adapt to COVID-19

  1. Laurie Woodard

    We also are having clerkship students participate in telehealth calls as described by Dr. Hatch and also troubleshooting technical issues with patients as we too are very new to telehealth.

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