In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, many faculty in the School of Medicine (SOM) were tasked with restructuring courses and content for medical students to ensure they could effectively finish their semesters. A true testament to how the SOM community is better when working together is the creation and implementation of the Medical Management of COVID-19 elective for medical students, created by Drs. Stephen P. Bogdewic and Sarah Smithson, and Johanna Foster.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, many faculty in the School of Medicine (SOM) were tasked with restructuring courses and content for medical students to ensure they could effectively finish their semesters and be able to engage in unprecedented learning opportunities in a safe and constructive way. Many leaders stepped up to the challenge, and should be recognized for their invaluable contributions to medical education and the UNC Health and School of Medicine community. Our School of Medicine community is grateful for each and every person who pulled together to finish the semester strong.
A true testament to how the SOM community is better when working together is the creation and implementation of the Medical Management of COVID-19 elective for medical students. Stephen P. Bogdewic, PhD, MA (Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Affairs in the Department of Family Medicine, Executive Leadership Coach in the Office of Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development) and Sarah Smithson, MD, MPH (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Assistant Dean for Clinical Education), Johanna Foster, MPA (Senior Director of Academic Affairs), and 84 participating faculty led the charge in making the elective successful for the participating students from the classes of 2020, ’21, and ’22.
On March 16, 2020, medical students were pulled from the clinical setting due to the shortage of PPE, which disrupted the learning of close to 600 students, requiring our faculty and staff to develop and implement innovative teaching. At this time, Bogdewic, Smithson, and Foster began working to figure out how to provide education to participating students in a way that was flexible, valuable, and included clinical content that they would be missing from the rest of their semester or potentially longer.
With little time to prepare, they created a four-week elective course for the month of April that focused on COVID-19 and addressed all of the primary buckets of medical education (basic science, clinical science, and health systems science), while also touching on wellness and providing students with the opportunity to participate in service learning. The service learning component was important not only to meet the students’ desire to contribute, but also the community’s needs. Dr. Beat Steiner, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education and Professor of Family Medicine, shared “It is hard to overstate the tremendous work the three of them did in such a short time. In the midst of great uncertainty and a quickly changing reality, they created a highly rated, rigorous course that helped students better understand the pandemic and become better doctors. They effectively engaged other faculty and students. They are true educators and leaders”.
The online course launched on March 30, 2020 after less than two weeks of preparation, and ran through April 24, 2020. In total, 410 students participated (392 med students, 18 PA students), 84 faculty and staff were involved, and there were 45 modules and 7 live lectures. In addition to building the course week by week as they went along, the team also partnered with NC AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) to make the course available to anyone across the state. The team also shared the course through the AAMC iCollaborative.
The course reviews were favorable, and the facilitators were particularly well-reviewed, with an average effectiveness score of 4.8 out of 5 as reviewed by 296 students. One student participant commented “I think this course was one of the best organized courses I’ve taken at any university. The Sakai site was extremely organized which I really appreciated. I live guest speakers were amazing, it was wonderful to hear from so many professionals doing amazing things during this time”.
The course creation and execution is a true testament to how skilled and savvy our medical educators are here at UNC School of Medicine. In the face of unprecedented uncertainty and insecurity caused by a global pandemic, Drs. Bogdewic and Smithson, Johanna Foster, and the 84 participating faculty rallied together showing us that we can withstand anything as long as we’re working together. The team demonstrated a strong commitment to collaboration, innovation, and medical education through getting this elective up quickly, effectively, and in a way that would be mutually beneficial to the students, faculty, and community we serve – all while continuing to be exceptional physicians, researchers, educators, caretakers, and humans also impacted by the pandemic.
Many thanks to Drs. Bogdewic and Smithson, Johanna Foster, and all of the participating faculty for their commitment to the School of Medicine community and beyond. We cannot thank you or praise you enough for your hard work!