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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

The impact of COVID-19 on medical education in India

1 Department of Surgery, J N Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Anatomy, J N Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission01-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance01-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication23-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vishwanath M Pattanshetti
Department of General Surgery, J N Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jss.JSS_49_20

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How to cite this article:
Pattanshetti VM, Pattanshetti SV. The impact of COVID-19 on medical education in India. J Sci Soc 2020;47:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Pattanshetti VM, Pattanshetti SV. The impact of COVID-19 on medical education in India. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Jan 27];47:1-2. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2020/47/1/1/287493

Since March 2020, medical education in India has experienced a major disruptive change as a consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic and nation-wide lockdown. Measures to prevent spread and hence to ensure social distancing have led to the closure of medical schools and have compelled the situation of working from home for both medical teachers and students. Almost all undergraduate students of medical colleges are relocated to their homes, leaving their hostels just before the beginning of lockdown, of local, interstate, and international travel. Thus, leaving behind routine didactic lecture classes, practicals, tutorials, seminars, clinical (ward, outpatient department [OPD], and OT) postings and internal assessment examinations. On the other hand, even the physical attendance of medical teachers/clinicians at workshops, CMEs, symposia, and conferences, has ceased. The uncertainty of situation during this period in the country due to COVID-19 Pandemic has led many medical colleges and health universities to initiate steps to start teaching and learning using various online platforms on their own, as there were no definitive directives other than the encouragement to initiate the use online teaching methods from either Medical Council of India (MCI) or any other statutory bodies. However, recently Board of Governors in Suppression of MCI has made some amendments in the conduct of postgraduate examinations which were supposed to be completed by May 2020 by making some relaxation in the provision of appointment of external examiners, so that examinations can be completed by June 2020 during this pandemic period.[1]

At present, undergraduate teaching is being conducted by various methods using various online platforms by many medical colleges without any uniformity. Few colleges are still exploring online teaching platforms, and few have already chosen the best online platform and invested in them. In such a complex situation, for our rescue, the trial access/free version of various online streaming/conferencing tools and free/less costly internet data packages from telecom companies have made it possible to reach individual students and teach them. All of these teaching/learning tools can be easily accessed, even from mobile devices. Above all, various publishers have started providing free access to e-resources materials, including e-books, e-journals, and databases during this pandemic period.

There is a need for multiple studies, to be conducted across the country to know the effectiveness of such teaching and learning tools both from students and medical teachers. One positive observation is that technology is being used rapidly and innovatively to keep continuing teaching and learning. Still, we do not know when our medical colleges are going to start full-fledged routine as previously was done. The future of medical education is uncertain once the pandemic resolves, but several potential teaching and learning technologies are available if adequately explored. The use of emergent technology for education, such as artificial intelligence for adaptive learning and virtual reality, are very likely to be essential components of the transformative change and the future of medical education.[2]

A major challenge for medical teachers in the present times is to replicate the experience of clinical exposures. These exposures range from OPD and ward postings, where they will have interactive communication with patients and with teachers during case presentation sessions, thus helping in the enhancement of communication and clinical skills. At present, videos, podcasts, simple virtual reality, and computer simulations are beginning to be used to assist teachers and facilitate student learning and training in these areas. Simple online platforms, such as websites and blogs, can provide basic information but also offer opportunities to host videos for demonstrating essential skills, such as procedural clinical skills and communication.[3]

The introduction of competency-based medical education in the undergraduate curriculum requires regular assessments of student achievement. Medical schools have a great challenge to observe student performance or to hold large scale examinations. Formative and summative assessments for core knowledge have started to use a variety of online tools and platforms. The range is from websites, discussions forums, and online discussion spaces to real-time online chat and communication apps.[4]

At least we can say that the process of transformation in the increased use of technology in medical education is, in its early phase, with a rapid and progressive individual and collective acceptance by both medical teachers and students. There is also the commitment of medical colleges to the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. This transformative change may be embedded permanently with previous teaching modules in near future, by giving a greater emphasis on online learning and the use of mobile devices to replace face-to-face group teaching and meetings. The medical teachers/educators will need to develop and implement innovative solutions in response to this present demand of use of technology to prepare for future.

There are many challenges which have to be discussed at the earliest and to be solved by the eminent medical educators along with MCI/statutory bodies, such as

  1. Bringing uniform online teaching/learning technology platforms for all the medical colleges across the country
  2. Amendments in the pattern of conduct of examinations which may be short term or long term depending on prevail of pandemic
  3. Guidelines for relocating the students back to the colleges and starting of teaching at colleges
  4. Due consideration toward giving more priority, preferably to the local students during the forthcoming admissions of undergraduates and postgraduates
  5. Training/faculty development workshops for medical teachers in regard to newer teaching learning technologies
  6. There is a necessity for free/open access to e-resource material even after ceasing of trial access by various publishers
  7. Understanding and adaptation to the newer technology for education, such as artificial intelligence for adaptive learning and virtual reality.

These above-mentioned factors are mainly related to the length of time that the pandemic is going to be disruptive, the long disruption, which is likely to produce significant alteration in several of these factors. Other factors which may affect include, economic constraints, availability of infrastructure and continuation of providing treatment to COVID patients by the same clinical workforce who are engaged with teaching the students. All of these factors are likely to have a significant impact on the future approach in the field of medical education, which medical colleges across India provide.

  References Top

Goh PS, Sandars J. A Vision of the use of Technology in Medical Education after the COVID-19 Pandemic. MedEdPublish; 2020. p. 9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Dong C, Goh PS. Twelve tips for the effective use of videos in medical education. Med Teach 2015;37:140-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
Martin F, Ritzhaupt A, Kumar S, Budhrani K. Award-winning faculty online teaching practices: Course design, assessment and evaluation, and facilitation. Internet Higher Edu 2019;42:34-43.  Back to cited text no. 4

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