A global pandemic stretching into its third year has had far-reaching effects on all aspects of healthcare systems. Medical training is no exception.
To create a better understanding of the unique challenge medical educators face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer solutions, the AMA has created a resource with organizational steps to support medical educators (PDF).
The document was formed with input from stakeholders within the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.
“The goal is to help understand these challenges and then, ideally, inform schools – and health system leaders – about how they can create systems that advance the educational mission,” said Sanjay V. Desai, MD, Academic Director of the AMA. officer and group vice president of medical education. “It’s not just important for educators, but for the next generation of physicians and, ultimately, for the patients they serve.” The document offers seven key recommendations that institutions can implement to support educators as they recover from the pandemic.
This requires a specific understanding of faculty well-being. “Schools can collect data, they can observe, and they can understand what educators in their system are going through,” Dr. Desai said. “Without understanding what the impact has been on them, it will be difficult for them to move forward.”
Prior to joining the AMA last year, Dr. Desai served as Myron L. Weisfeldt Professor of Medicine, Osler Medical Residency Director, and Vice President of Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. .
During a recent episode of “AMA Moving Medicine,” Dr. Desai explained how and why we are facing a predicted shortage of doctors. For more information, visit SaveGME.org.
This includes identifying systemic issues that create constraints on the efforts of individual educators. It also means creating processes that are more attentive to the mission of educators, which requires more support.
“We have removed educators and placed them in clinical care due to the needs that exist,” Dr. Desai said. “We need to start thinking about what we can do to lighten up other tasks they are doing, to recreate or recoup the education time they have lost.”
The pandemic has revealed trends that were already compromising dedicated educator support and learner education time. Advice to improve this includes giving front-line clinical supervisors guidance on how to effectively integrate education into clinical workflows and to learn education best practices in new clinical models created during the pandemic, such as the use increased telehealth.
“Technical resources, human resources and online resources… are going to be important investments for schools to make,” Dr Desai said.
This means regular feedback mechanisms, outlined promotional opportunities, and support for educator research activities. Much of that has been put on hold as the pandemic shifts priorities in medicine.
“Like many things in the pandemic, this laid bare a problem that was already there,” said Kimberly Lomis, MD, AMA vice president for innovations in undergraduate medical education. “In many situations, people in education are chronically dancing on a tightrope without enough support and ability,”
WADA hoped to initiate this process at the institutional level.
“We will use our channels to directly reach those who run both medical training and residency programs as well as health system leaders,” Dr. Lomis said. “We believe that providing a formal document allows our educators – who are under these pressures – to have something that they can refer to and that has the validation of the AMA, that they can present to the leadership of their various institutions and advocate for support.”
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