Virtual clinical clerkships augment third-year learning

Current third-year students whose rotating clerkships were stopped for eight weeks due to COVID-19 are getting a virtual boost before resuming hands-on training later this summer. The clerkships, suspended in March, would have concluded May 31. Now, the 125 students are simultaneously participating in virtual, four-week clerkships in surgery, medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychology and neurology. The effort to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on clinical training is a big commitment for the medical school’s simulation centers.

For each clerkship, four or five students — joined by a faculty member — engage in two scenarios via Zoom that help them practice clinical reasoning, diagnosis and treatment of patients. The simulation center staff, led by Julie Woodhouse, MEd, RN, CHSE, works with clerkship directors to develop and execute the scenarios.

The simulations will augment training and cover important live patient experiences necessary to achieve the stated clerkship learning objectives. Following this, students will complete the direct-patient-care portion of their remaining clerkships through early August, resulting in a six-week delayed start of their fourth year. On Aug. 3, they will begin their next year of training, the same day that rising third-year students will start their clerkships.