Although the global pandemic has disrupted many aspects of regular operations at the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) over the past few months, many of our faculty and staff have worked with leadership to help members of our department successfully adapt to the new “normal” as quickly as possible.
Within our educational programs, there has been a tremendous effort to find new approaches to deliver alternative learning experiences to ensure that our learners can effectively continue their training. Although our department has employed several e-learning methods in the past, we are inspired by the innovative and creative solutions produced by our education leaders to address the challenges that resulted from COVID-19. Some of these solutions include:
- Converted all in-person undergraduate and postgraduate seminars to live Zoom seminars,
- Implemented “A day in the life of a family doctor” virtual Q&A sessions, during which undergraduate students were able to gain insight on what it’s like to be a family doctor during COVID;
- Converted the 1st and 2nd year Undergraduate Family Medicine Week and Addictions Week to virtual experiences;
- Compiled educational resources on our COVID-19 resource page to assist both residents and teachers with virtual teaching and supervision, virtual care, redeployment, wellness, and competency acquisition for missed rotations such as in Indigenous Health, Women’s Health, and Addictions, among many others;
- Created a virtual care orientation program for our incoming residents
- Hosted our first ever virtual DFCM resident graduation and academic project presentation day
- Developing virtual care education modules based on learning science to guide our PGY1s through the clinical reasoning process
- Created a faculty development mentorship program to provide support for our teachers as new clerks and residents join us in this new environment, and,
- Adapted and moved graduate and continuing education studies courses online, making use of Zoom, discussion boards and other technology.
All of these solutions were created in collaboration with site directors, program directors, faculty, and staff with support from the Office of Education Scholarship. We are grateful for how quickly they all were able to pivot their programs to minimize the disruption to learning as much as possible.
We recognize that there are limits to the solutions that have been implemented, and we are continually evaluating and adjusting our programs to improve the experience for our learners and our faculty members. Some of the challenges moving forward include:
- Teaching and supervision of our learners in clinical settings with substantially reduced in office patient care, and an exponential increase in provision of virtual care.
- Creating innovative and effective online and virtual educational opportunities for our learners.
- Orienting and teaching clerks and PGY1s who have been away from clinical settings for the past 3 months.
- The double cohort of clerks in the coming academic year
- Ensuring comprehensive faculty development program so that our teachers feel confident in their ability to teach and supervise medical students and residents.
We acknowledge that these challenges need to be addressed in order for us to prepare our learners for the future landscape of family medicine. It is clear that virtual care will continue to play a significant role in health care for the foreseeable future, and it is important that we support our learners in acquiring the knowledge and skills to provide effective patient care in every context.
Our education leaders will continue to collaborate to find ways to tackle these challenges and provide excellent educational experiences for all our learners. I want to thank Drs. Risa Freeman, Azi Moaveni, Stu Murdoch, Abbas Ghavam-Rassoul, and Viola Antao for their leadership, and all the program directors, site directors, faculty, and staff for their ongoing support and hard work during this time.
Department of Family and Community Medicine