How 2 COM navigated COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic has posed great challenges for undergraduate and graduate medical education as schools and programs have adapted to social distancing guidelines. Thomas Cavalieri, DO, Dean of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, shares how his school overcame these challenges while reaccrediting with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).

Nikolai Butki, DO, Associate Professor of Osteopathic Medical Specialties at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Director of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at McLaren Oakland Hospital, shares his experiences and observations teaching students and residents in osteopathic medicine at the height of the pandemic.

How has medical education continued with social distancing guidelines enforced?

Dr Butki: As emergency physicians, we are a social group that draws energy from each other and prefers to learn and train collaboratively in person. However, early in the pandemic, after the first one or two residents and assistants tested positive for COVID, we realized that continuing to conduct in-person training that could expose and potentially disable most of our number of EM physicians at any given time would be irresponsible.

In response, we quickly changed our training delivery to a virtual platform. This generation of learners is quite tech-savvy. Thus, learners and instructors quickly understood the nuances of virtual education to make virtual education both effective and efficient.

In emergency medicine, there is training, especially in procedural skills training, that simply cannot be done virtually. To teach them, we still met in person, but trained in small groups, put on makeup in our N-95s and goggles, enforced social distancing protocols, and sanitized our hands and equipment frequently.

Dr. Cavalieri: As in other schools, we had to find new ways to deliver the program. For pre-clerkship students, we offered the program virtually. However, students returned to campus for clinical skills learning, OMM, and exams. Per CDC and Occupational Health guidelines, the number of students in an area was limited and everyone was required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Third and fourth year clerkship students were removed from their clerkship sites largely because there was not enough adequate PPE. Clerkship students participated in self-directed learning experiences and e-learning, and many were able to participate in telehealth. It was a very difficult time because it is very difficult to teach clinical skills remotely or not in patient care areas.

What has been the response to these changes?

Dr Butki: Students and residents are highly skilled in self-directed learning from whatever source is available to them. Using virtual platforms, instructors can still demonstrate physical examination techniques or view photos or videos online of the proper technique.

Dr. Butki and his brother, Dr. A. Butki, organized an ultrasound course for MSUCOM students in the Emergency Medicine Student Interest Group.

I know that MSUCOM students are prepared with a solid basic knowledge of physical examination techniques. Thus, teaching or reinforcing these skills through clinical placements is virtually not ideal, but can still be effective.

And students and residents kept turning up in the emergency department. We expect students and residents to still be able to perform physical examination techniques and procedures and apply medical knowledge to patient care in the emergency department, even though they have completed their training. virtually. The expected outcome, students and residents practicing medicine, has not been lowered.

And there were a few benefits to virtual education. For residents, the elimination of unproductive driving time has resulted in an increase in household well-being. When we attend a virtual education from home, we can do several household chores and education by throwing in an armful of laundry before a lecture or having breakfast with our children until the lecture begins.

Dr. Cavalieri: Our staff, students and teachers were under great pressure. We have worked collectively to provide a more supportive environment. We had two psychiatrists and a psychologist available to support our students through telehealth.

We have also worked to have enough PPE for our students. We have done everything we can to improve communication between students and teachers. Student government leaders have helped us learn about student needs and concerns.

RowanSOM medical students were passionate about serving our community and dealing with the impact of the pandemic. Students have been integral to the success of the Rowan COVID Vaccination Center on our campus in Stratford. Thanks to the volunteer work of our medical students, more than 55,000 vaccines have been administered on our campus.

The vaccines were administered to several vulnerable communities such as the frail elderly, people with special needs, the homeless and migrant farm workers.

During the six months of operation of our vaccination center, students learned about the proper administration of vaccines, many issues related to public health, interprofessional collaboration and team care. Their exceptional work has been recognized by the New Jersey Department of Health.

How has the pandemic affected the COCA accreditation process?

Dr. Cavalieri: Our school has undergone accreditations for the additional location of our medical school and a full site visit. Due to the pandemic, both visits were virtual and went very well from a technical point of view. We felt that COCA was able to do a proper assessment to see if we were meeting COCA’s standards and elements. As a result, we received accreditation for our new campus and we are grateful to have received accreditation with “outstanding results”.

Dr Cavalieri (center) at the opening of Rowan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccination Center

Factors that have contributed to our success include a strong network of high-quality sites throughout our state for clerkship, highly qualified basic and clinical science faculty, an all-new program offering two learning tracks, and exceptional students who are passionate about the desire to be a great osteopath. doctors.

What changes in medical education influenced by the pandemic do you plan to continue?

Dr. Cavalieri: I believe that as a result of the pandemic, we will see more and more medical education being done remotely. The pandemic has also caused us to do more telehealth, so teaching students how to manage patients through telehealth will be an important part of the curriculum going forward.

Dr Butki: We have identified some benefits of virtual education. We have already modified our teaching program to categorize educational activities that work well virtually, such as Journal Club, and we can organize them all in one day so that once a month we can offer virtual education, offering the Educationally the best of both worlds.

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