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Is Virtual Medical Training a Reliable Option in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic?

Dr. Khalid is a health researcher and science writer with a Ph.D. in clinical research.

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Virtual Medical Education – A Boon or a Curse for the Health Care System?

COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly transforming the operationality of medical education across the globe. The fear of getting infected is forcing the medical community to adopt virtual methods of health care training and education. The credibility of online medical education is widely debated among students, academicians, and health care professionals. The skepticism versus excitement of pursuing an online medical education is based on the level of expertise it could generate among young learners and professionals. The use of virtual simulations to deliver experiential training sessions has greatly assisted the aspirants of medical knowledge to enhance their skills and expertise. However, the supporters of conventional (interactive) teaching methods reject the credibility and potential of online medical education methods while citing their stereotypical reasons. Interestingly, online teaching methods help learners to create innovative virtual learning environments through the meaningful use of technological applications. The virtual training sessions for medical students and experienced professionals incorporate self-directed modules that help them to develop their skills and patient management expertise. The true potential of these modules is somewhat questionable in learning complex medical procedures based on diagnostic and surgical interventions. The virtual simulations undoubtedly provide real-time experience to the medical professionals while helping them to expand their clinical skills; however, the inability of students or professionals to perform and practice these interventions barricades their learning process to a considerable extent.

What is the Contribution of Virtual Bootcamps for Medical Students and Professionals?

The virtual bootcamps prove to be the source of knowledge only for those students or professionals who have the true intentions of increasing their clinical expertise. These bootcamps guide medical students/professionals to deliver quality health care interventions through the innovative use of telecommunication methods. Boot camps also help medical students to develop their basic health care skills with minimal assistance. The educators in bootcamps record and present videos of various medical procedures while actively engaging participants through rapid question and answer rounds. The medical students eventually develop a sense of a real-time classroom environment that helps them to improve their clinical skills without ambiguity and confusion.

Can Virtual/Online Lectures Replace the Interactive Classroom Sessions?

The emergence of online education in recent years has facilitated the expansion of medical courses to a range of remote locations. The students have now the option to enhance their professional development without physically approaching the university campus. The esteemed institutions/universities including Stanford School of Medicine and the University of Tasmania offer online professional courses to medical students that allow them to access and benefit from the knowledge pool customized for various patient care requirements. The state-of-the-art facilities of these universities mandate several hours of training sessions for their enrolled medical students to ascertain their learning and engagement in complex clinical interventions. Additionally, health care organizations, hospitals, and universities across the globe continue to coordinate and cost-effectively extend the provision of medical education to eligible learners. Online medical education continues to replace face-to-face classroom sessions in the wake of COVID-19. The subtle difference between online medical education and interactive classroom sessions is based on the greater physical distance between teachers and students in virtual training sessions. Online medical education defeats conventional classroom sessions in a variety of ways. For example, the online sessions create greater discipline among students since they prove to be time-bound and allow give way to queries and clarifications. The students get the privilege to view the recorded sessions multiple times at their convenience to eliminate their doubts or misunderstandings. The face-to-face classroom sessions lack these privileges and, in many scenarios, fail to establish discipline and equitable participation of medical students. Contrarily, the virtual sessions boost the competitive spirit of the students and help them to share their concerns without fear and apprehension.

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Is Online Medical Education a Compulsion or a Necessity for the COVID-19 World?

The medical/health care professionals experience the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 infection based on their engagement in patient-care interventions. Accordingly, face-to-face interactive sessions could potentially predispose medical students and academicians towards COVID-19 complications. Physicians and health care teams engaged in COVID-19 hospitals across the globe continue risking their lives to safeguard the health and wellness of infected patients despite an ongoing crisis in health care resources. An urgent revival of health care systems is the need of the hour to check and control the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The transformation of medical education is the first step to cost-effectively improve health care practices while keeping in view the safety requirements of medical students and professionals.

Can You Imagine the Power of Virtual Learning Platform?

The virtual online training platforms must include and integrate the provision of calling, browsing, polling, recording, chatting, videoconferencing, and emailing to improve the collaboration between medical students, teachers, and professionals. Health care institutions must adopt innovative data management strategies to reduce the risk of complications or glitches in online communication. The meaningful orchestration of online training sessions could probably supersede conventional educational didactics that the medical institutes have continued to adopt until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual medical training will unprecedentedly revolutionize medical education in the longer term and trigger a major health care transformation in the post-COVID-19 world.

The Final Solution

The blend of face-to-face and online education sessions appears to be a viable provision to achieve the health care objectives in the longer run. The medical institutes have the option of selectively scheduling their classroom sessions inside their campuses to equip medical students with the latest tools and techniques warranted to enhance the quality of clinical procedures. The online sessions through various interactive tools appear to meet most of the educational requirements of the medical profession. The post-COVID-19 world would heavily rely on the contribution of online training sessions for the systematic development, enhancement, and ramification of medical education.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Dr Khalid Rahman

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