Is Healthcare Training Keeping up with These Rapidly Evolving and Uncertain Times?

Healthcare Training
Healthcare training during the pandemic

Overnight changes in the education industry have hit healthcare training hard courtesy of Covid-19!  

The AAMC’s recommendations in March 2020 to medical colleges included a pause in learning for the next generation, at least until students were trained on appropriate safety measures as needed.  

The Challenge! 

This ‘necessity’ is what optimists feel will bring about the next wave of ‘invention’ in education technology.   

Is it possible for healthcare sectors to soar beyond the confines of traditional pedagogy to win the war against the pandemic? Here’s a look at the impact the pandemic has had to date.

 

Have medical professionals been keeping up to date amidst the pandemic?  

Practicing medical professionals are required to earn a certain number of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to maintain their licenses. With physical distancing measures in place conferences and training sessions have moved online.   

Within a very short time span e-learning platforms have been employed to convey: 

  • Clinical knowledge
  • Medical investigations 
  • Case-based evidence presentations
  • Conduct biomedical research
  • Improvements in patient care    

These platforms have included interactive training and virtual discussions. Authorized Certification of CME credits based on online evaluations are now being issued.   

 

What does online training mean to students from medical streams?  

Traditional in-person methods worked well during pre-pandemic times. We’ve even seen small spurts in online teaching and live webinars to facilitate inter-institutional exchange of knowledge.  However, owing to predominant industry standards these trends have been short-lived.  

Over the past few months CNBC reports, over 14 million students being affected because of the abrupt closure of schools and colleges across the country.   

Many education institutions have moved their classes online. They have especially been applauded for being accessible from anywhere, anytime. The case is not that simple when it comes to medical schools and healthcare training providers.  

 

Next gen healthcare professionals: most affected?  

Many colleges graduated their final year students early, while some deferred hands-on learning (such as clinical rotations and laboratory testing) to the future.  Some universities have even offered short-term licenses for final years to assist in specified capacities during the pandemic.  

Like many final year medical students, Erika Wickstrom, expressed concern over her upcoming residency. She says in a CNBC interview that she "hopes that the pandemic situation is under control by the time she begins her residency. Since it is a big leap for a group of new residents to act in the capacity of a physician, especially amidst the battle against the virus."   

The concern is real for medical students and educators as well. However, this is a risk that has been weighed and taken!   

The evolving face of healthcare training  

According to an estimate by WHO there is a need for 4.3 million more healthcare professionals across the world.   

So, if this need is to be met – not just in numbers but with adequate expertise, medical training needs to be ramped up to a whole new level.   

Immediate responses by healthcare providers have included turning to a broader and more flexible mode of providing training.   

Responses from educators include:  

  • Conducting distance interviews for aspiring medical students   
  • Virtual orientation   
  • Conducting online classes and live video-conferenced discussion groups
  • Virtual clinical rounds in place of in-person rounds   
  • Observing real-time surgeries via platforms such as Zoom   
  • Augmented reality training sessions for professionals on medical protocols, use of protective gear and on certain clinical procedures.

One thing is certain: the face of medical education has been changed forever!   

Virtual training efforts to inculcate preparedness and developing high-quality caregivers within the current setting are indeed saving lives today.  

The new norm  

Medical practice itself looks very different today with the sudden rise in:   

  • Telemedicine, to replace routine doctor visits and consult physicians in case of emergencies  
  • Virtual care via mobile apps offering symptom-checks   
  • Geo-tracking of individuals suspected or confirmed with the virus   

Lower hands-on experience among graduating students and connectivity issues plaguing e-learning platforms are some of the main concerns.   

Healthcare Training has embraced a collaborative blend of online, offline, and virtual training. But while vaccine trials are being run at a frantic pace, healthcare training 2020 is indeed a pilot study for its effectiveness in the new era of healthcare.   

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