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EDUCATORS TALK: Teaching healthcare professionals under a new normal setup

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THE Covid-19 crisis has disrupted many sectors, particularly the medical field, where the training of doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals has experienced unprecedented blockages.

Pandemic or not, it is still essential to train qualified and equipped health professionals to do more than just react. Thus, the University of the Philippines-College of Medicine (UPCM), UP-College of Nursing (UPCN) and UP-College of Dentistry (UPCD) have proposed collective efforts on how future clinical professionals can be trained. without compromising the need for knowledge and skills by using a synergistic roadmap for medical, nursing and dental education; traineeship; and same residence; using best practices and innovative teaching strategies.

All of this is made possible while adhering to guidelines set forth by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Health (DOH) in a joint circular.

For Dr. Charlotte Chiong, Dean of UPCM, it was truly a disturbing experience from the early days of the pandemic, when many of their colleagues succumbed to the disease.

“It pushed us to work really hard and think of innovative ways [to produce medical graduates] our country really needs,” said Dr Chiong during the recent “Stop Covid Deaths” webinar: “Reading MedisinaMedical care, at Dentistry her New Normal” hosted by UP, in partnership with UP-Manila NIH National Telehealth Center and in cooperation with UP-Philippine General Hospital.

She said UPCM has made several adjustments during the pandemic, particularly on the academic calendar, where UP system semesters have been shortened to 14 weeks from the original 16, all off-campus elective rotations have been canceled with electives moved to mid-year, and course durations have also been reduced.

“The learning outcomes have been reviewed and adjusted to the essentials: ‘must know, must do’, especially in the clinical years,” explained Dr. Chiong. She added that the teaching and learning methodologies were transformed to be delivered to UPCM’s Learning Management Systems (LMS): the Canvas and the UP Manila Virtual Learning Environment. .

Other changes, she said, involved the increased use of asynchronous learning and increased use of meeting platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet: “We even offered honors students registration free to Harvard Medical School’s online courses in biochemistry and pharmacology. We have done this for 450 students over the past two years, and we plan to enroll another 220 before the next academic year.

The Dean also pointed out that assessments were done online using the Neuro Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, while psychosocial support was also provided to students, faculty and staff with more mentoring sessions, mindfulness training and even leniency in college course requirements and rules. as well as the virtualization of medical education using equipment provided by several donors.

“For the 2022-2023 academic year, we will combine distance technology-enhanced learning, online assessments, a mix of in-person and online lectures, and a mix of performance-based assessments and ‘in-person exams,’ Dr Chiong said.

Dr. Sheila Bonito, Dean of UPCN, noted that there were similarities and also variations in teaching changes in the said college. She also lamented that many schools have closed and clinical placements have been halted, while faculty development has been delayed due to the pandemic.

“It also revealed some issues, such as underinvestment in nursing education,” Dr. Bonito explained. “With insufficient investment, how can we continue to produce quality nurses? »

The dean said that UPCN was already doing this even before CHED made flexible learning compulsory for higher education, and that it had redesigned its courses, developed course modules, as well as designed learning activities. learning and planned assessments taking into account new ways of teaching and learning.

“We have also decoupled the courses to be able to deliver lectures, laboratory work and even clinical internships remotely,” she said. “Most importantly, faculty members also had to undergo training on how to redesign their courses, which we also shared with other nursing schools, being a CHED Center of Excellence.

Just like UPCM, UPCN has used online technologies such as LMS, Zoom meetings, video-based learning and the creation of virtual clinics that can give students the clinical practicum exposure scenario: a imaginary hospital setting where students perform various nursing duties.

“We believe that it is no longer possible to go back to the old ways of teaching and learning. The threat of infection will always be there, and there will be other challenges in the future,” she said.

Finally, Dr. Danilo Magtanong, Dean of the UPCD, pointed out that some members of the college, as well as other schools in the country, still hope that education will go back to the old way once the pandemic is over, or “return to normal”. “Personally, I wouldn’t want to go back there, because there’s nothing to come back to. Our so-called response to the pandemic, such as upgrading and renovating all college facilities, should not be seen as our preparations for the new normal. This is the environment necessary for training in dentistry long before.

He said the pandemic has exposed inadequacies, inabilities and a disregard for real-life situations in clinical training, and the risks, perils and dangers that come with them: “Our harsh lesson here is this: we simply lucky to have come this far.