6 December 2020
Appreciating improvements made by informatics in a clinical setting is easy (or I would at least hope after the last blog written). As long as we keep improving medical interventions then clinical outcomes with keep improving.
Easy. Not quite.
In order to match the modern day needs of patients, more has to be done than simply improve current medical procedures. We need to make transformative improvements, starting from the ground up. We need to make sure that the professionals who will be treating and working with patients have had the best training possible. We need to talk about medical education.
Due to the current climate, traditional teaching techniques have been rendered unviable. Indeed, a scene where the professor stands before a lecture hall crammed with students, all awaiting (likely ignoring) the speech that is being delivered, feels about as realistic as any Dr Who plotline. Times have changed, and so, teaching has had to match this. Already, during the time I have been at university, I have noticed a move from classroom-centred approaches to more interactive and online deliveries. Back in 2013 (the horror of it), lectures weren’t even recorded. Fast forward to present day where anatomical dissections can be performed virtually (Chang et al, 2018); lectures across the country are being live streamed and recorded simultaneously to hundreds at a time (BMA, 2020; first-hand experience); with a similar set-up seen for exams.
None of these changes would have occurred, at such a rapid rate, or would have been possible without the digital technology we currently possess.
The role of computing in medical education is now more essential than ever. It has allowed for shared decision making, patient consultations and interactive, evidence-based learning to occur remotely. Additionally, for staff, it has allowed for team-meetings, marking and curriculum adjustments to be made exclusively online (McGowan & Berner, 2002). Such methods have allowed for safe and consistent delivery of content in an otherwise uncertain time. Without the digital technologies we currently possess, and with the current social distancing restriction presently in place, teaching would have ceased, to the detriment of all health care trainees.
Although the role of computing in medical education is now apparent, I am certain, I am not the only one wishing for the days of Zoom to end. Face-to-face teaching will be warmly welcomed when it is safe to return. I do hope, however, that some of the core concepts of online learning are kept. Encouraging collaboration and professional interactions across the globe at an early career stage can only be positive. Additionally, seeking information out independently and making resources when such information cannot be found, has highlighted the creativity many healthcare trainees possess. Although, this year has been less than ideal, hopefully when the dust of 2020 pandemic has settled, some silver linings will still shine through.
Chang, H. J., Kim, H. J., Rhyu, I. J., Lee, Y. M., & Uhm, C.S. Emotional experiences of medical students during cadaver dissection and the role of memorial ceremonies: a qualitative study. BMC Med Educ. 2018; 18(1):255.
British Medical Association (BMA). Lecture over – medical education in the time of COVID-19 [Accessed 1st December 2020].
McGowan J.J., Berner E.S. (2002) Computers in Medical Education. In: Norman G.R. et al. (eds) International Handbook of Research in Medical Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, Vol 7. Springer, Dordrecht.
About the author
I achieved a First-Class Honours in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2017. Following this, I worked in the Clinical Neuroscience Department at The University of Cambridge. I am currently in my third year of studying Medicine at The University of Glasgow. I am interested in the role of online platforms in medical education and science communication and research.
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