Chair: Iain Robinson, Co-chair: Kevin Brandom | 9th March 2021, 12:30 -15:30 (UK’s time)
COVID-19 - Enforcing Flexibility in Medical Assessment and Education
* Emily Joslin, Roumina Hasan, Sulabha Ambekar, Richard Brown, Rebecca Mulholland, Sadaf Muzaffar, Preethi Gopinath
* Corresponding Author: Emily Joslin, Princess Alexandra Hospital (United Kingdom), firstname.lastname@example.org
The effects of COVID-19 on medical education have been felt across the UK in recent months. With the uncertainty regarding when ‘normality’ will return, and the speed at which our practice is evolving, it is imperative teaching models and techniques are moulded to accommodate learning for all students and junior doctors. Based in a UK Histopathology laboratory (Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, Essex), the work is centred around tissue specimen handling and examination which requires a practical approach. This type of work requires close training and assessment of new junior doctor colleagues rotating into this specialty, for many of whom will be their primary experience of lab work.
Summary of work
Our aim was to create a brand-new online programme with virtual narratives of 3-dimensional anatomical demonstration of tissue specimens. Our programme was composed on ‘Panopto’ and ‘Bridge’, a secure online video platform (provided by HEE East of England). Consultants, registrars and laboratory staff were involved in creating the resources. The material was created at Foundation trainee level with no prior laboratory experience.
Summary of results
Our programme encompassed a vital induction to the department, including a laboratory tour with attention paid to safety aspects within the laboratory including specific Personal Protective Equipment advice. Numerous videos were compiled of macroscopic examination of commonly encountered tissue specimens and dissection methods. These recordings emulated the correct examination procedure and were accompanied by PowerPoint presentations with audio overlay and written departmental guidelines. In order to evaluate essential understanding of these examinations, assessments were created at the end of each individual course which must be completed ensuring sufficient comprehension of the techniques prior to practical commencement. Continuing assessment of performance was also undertaken within the laboratory setting, with a comprehensive logbook given to each trainee to complete composed of both supervised and unsupervised tasks.
Discussion and Conclusion
The importance of safety within a laboratory and careful handling of tissue specimens is vital, which makes the departmental induction and teaching programme all the more important for our new doctors starting. We felt it was important to present the information in a variety of formats to aid the engagement of the user, and focus on the salient points of learning with the aid of online assessment tools. Continuing practical assessment in a laboratory setting was essential to maintain the diagnostic departmental standard. The impact on our healthcare system, and subsequently medical education, has been huge over the past few months. With the future of COVID-19 uncertain, it is vital we continue to train both our junior doctors and students in ways which follow ‘social distancing’ protocols. While online resources alone do not surpass true clinical exposure, they are a great way to continue education during the pandemic.
Take home message
This change in our practice during the COVID-19 pandemic has enforced flexibility in our usual assessment methods and practices, and has opened many doors for possible future assessment techniques.