Reconciling Fatigue to Transform the Future of Medical Education

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Telemedecine. Virtual learning experiences. Correction gaps. Born out of the pandemic, these innovations present opportunities for a medical education community currently facing obstacles.

“As medical programs move forward, they’re looking at the readiness of trainees and physicians, the evolution of training processes throughout the pandemic, burnout — for the individual, within systems healthcare and across industry – and the impact on patient care,” says Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) consultant Meggi Lensman, MBA, MedHub.

Lensman and his counterparts work with senior management in Higher medical education (GME) and UME to develop innovative solutions that transform processes and reduce administrative burden so educators can spend more time supporting their students or residents in training.

Throughout the pandemic, Lensman says students and faculty have had to adapt to sharing residents as educators, shortened teaching and learning times, continuous changes in complex information.

The medical students had to be on the floor before they were ready, and they were scared.

“Some never had a chance to process situations,” Lensman says. The students used to experience their first loss of a patient in residency, but now she sees it earlier in medical school. “They’ve never had the real process or training to address these issues, which can add challenges in residence.”

And students aren’t the only ones feeling overwhelmed. Lensman says they’re also seeing faculty burnout as pandemic fatigue is compounded by increased responsibility for training growing numbers of students.

ACGME President and CEO Thomas J. Nasca says residency applications have increased over the past three years and growth is expected to continue at around 44%.

“We’re asking medical schools and faculties to increase their numbers with fewer faculty and clinical experience,” Lensman said. Burnout leads to early retirement, resulting in faculty shortages and multi-level challenges.

Where student-teacher ratios used to be one student to five faculty, programs are now required to place 10 students in a faculty.. Programs are struggling to find places for students, making consistency of clinical experiences a growing concern.

Telemedicine and other solutions: here to stay?

Lensman says the solution may lie in trends learned from the pandemic, such as virtual curriculums and clinical experiences.

“Seeing patients in real life, you’ll have faculty at an institution observing the interaction and providing feedback to the student via cameras in the room,” Lensman says.

Other creative solutions such as remedial programs, certification of entrustable professional activities in preparation for residency, and capstone projects for senior preparation may become permanent as programs adapt. However, they will likely also require faculty development, as will the shift to competency-based education.

Establishing, managing, standardizing, and enforcing compliance around virtual experiences must be addressed. Many institutional leaders have found efficiencies with technology that automates processes and improves data accessibility, such as MedHub.

“In my experience, technology should always be behind the scenes of a program…automatic, transparent, efficient,” Lensman says.

On-demand interactive tools will also be crucial for understaffed programs looking to minimize the burden on leaders and faculty. Resources like MedHub Learning Portal and development trainings present a more efficient and scalable solution.

Creating standards and consistency in an ever-changing field

Collaboration between professional associations has been helpful establish standards, but must continue. Lensman says the American Telemedicine Association and the Coalition for Physician Accountability have both been instrumental in guiding the field through the changes.

Lensman encourages programs to partner with forward-thinking collaborators, technology or consulting providers, and professional associations to address challenges and advance medical education.

By relying on experts specialized in the optimization of administrative processes or the management of accreditations, teachers and institutional managers can give back time to their students.

Create clarity and coherence within institutions

Technology is transforming institutions by automating and streamlining processes and improving faculty oversight so they have a deep understanding of their students and residents. But it takes more than a sophisticated software platform. Success also requires expert guidance and support, which MedHub provides.

Committed to the success of each institution and the industry as a whole, MedHub embraces both a platform and a people-centric partnership approach. We optimize administration by channeling our expertise. We help leaders adapt and evolve through medicine and education,” says Lensman. “We are not just a supplier. We are a partner in education.

Simplify your program administration

Learn how leading medical education institutions have progressed when supported by MedHub. Request a demo.


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