Research Topic

Medical Education in Uncertain Times: Threats, Challenges, and Opportunities of COVID-19

About this Research Topic

The World Health Organization declared “coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19) a pandemic on March 12, 2020. As of July 20, 2020, Covid-19 has infected more than 14.5 million people globally, with over 600 thousand human lives lost. These figures are rising exponentially, and the long-term impact of this pandemic is still unknown. Therefore, the WHO has issued guidelines for containing, mitigating, and limiting the negative impacts of this pandemic. Obviously, both Covid-19 and the extraordinary measures to contain it are having an enormous impact on medical education. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced medical education towards more “online-education” approaches, with implications for medical educators and learners.

In the unprecedented threatening, constrained, and confusing social and educational environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, medical education faces several key challenges: Firstly, medical education must maintain, and ideally increase, its high standards while shifting towards more online education. While acknowledging the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical educators should look for, and capitalize on, opportunities that the pandemic may offer to enhance the educational experience of students. Secondly, medical education must acknowledge that most educational and psychological theories on learning and instructional design have been developed for “normal circumstances”. However, “Learning and instructional procedures do not occur in a situational vacuum” (Mohiyeddini, in this issue). Important questions are which theories can we use to understand the implications of the new psychological environment under which educators and learners perform, and how might these theories need to be revised (Kamel-ElSayed & Loftus 2018; Loftus 2015)? Thirdly, and in a related vein, medical education must consider that “there is no learner or educator without a past” (Mohiyeddini, in this issue). Because of the variations in their pasts, learners always come to the educational experience with different strengths and weaknesses. These differences have always been a challenge in medical education. Hence, medical education should consider inter-and interindividual differences by instructing, teaching, and learning. Furthermore, a pandemic brings additional challenges. How do we factor in these additional challenges so that we still provide an educational experience that still encourages professional competence and resilience in such uncertain times?

The aim of this call is for papers that consider the implications of COVID-19 for medical education and society’s response to it. In addition, this call is for research that delivers sound empirical evidence that can be used to inform public education policies, to support and advise governments and policymakers to introduce sustainable, feasible and cost-effective guidelines for medical education. Hence, the broad scope of this call allows us to invite papers that critically address any aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s implications for medical education.

Moving from a deficit-oriented approach toward a positive psychology of trauma and loss, we also encourage papers that address COVID-19 as a “chance” not only to improve medical education and improve health care systems and fight health disparities but to reconceptualize what these things are. These times give us an opportunity to take a step back and think more deeply about what an education for any professional practice, such as healthcare, should involve (Higgs et al 2010). In summary, Original Research, Data Reports, Study Protocols, Single Case Reports, and Community Case Studies, theoretical perspectives, and viewpoints are invited to help to improve our understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic for medical education


Keywords: COVID-19, Inter-and Interindividual differences, Medical Education, Online Education Pandemic, policymakers, Trauma and Loss, Healthcare, Healthcare Systems, Educational Experiences, Medical Professionals, Medical Students


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The World Health Organization declared “coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19) a pandemic on March 12, 2020. As of July 20, 2020, Covid-19 has infected more than 14.5 million people globally, with over 600 thousand human lives lost. These figures are rising exponentially, and the long-term impact of this pandemic is still unknown. Therefore, the WHO has issued guidelines for containing, mitigating, and limiting the negative impacts of this pandemic. Obviously, both Covid-19 and the extraordinary measures to contain it are having an enormous impact on medical education. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced medical education towards more “online-education” approaches, with implications for medical educators and learners.

In the unprecedented threatening, constrained, and confusing social and educational environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, medical education faces several key challenges: Firstly, medical education must maintain, and ideally increase, its high standards while shifting towards more online education. While acknowledging the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical educators should look for, and capitalize on, opportunities that the pandemic may offer to enhance the educational experience of students. Secondly, medical education must acknowledge that most educational and psychological theories on learning and instructional design have been developed for “normal circumstances”. However, “Learning and instructional procedures do not occur in a situational vacuum” (Mohiyeddini, in this issue). Important questions are which theories can we use to understand the implications of the new psychological environment under which educators and learners perform, and how might these theories need to be revised (Kamel-ElSayed & Loftus 2018; Loftus 2015)? Thirdly, and in a related vein, medical education must consider that “there is no learner or educator without a past” (Mohiyeddini, in this issue). Because of the variations in their pasts, learners always come to the educational experience with different strengths and weaknesses. These differences have always been a challenge in medical education. Hence, medical education should consider inter-and interindividual differences by instructing, teaching, and learning. Furthermore, a pandemic brings additional challenges. How do we factor in these additional challenges so that we still provide an educational experience that still encourages professional competence and resilience in such uncertain times?

The aim of this call is for papers that consider the implications of COVID-19 for medical education and society’s response to it. In addition, this call is for research that delivers sound empirical evidence that can be used to inform public education policies, to support and advise governments and policymakers to introduce sustainable, feasible and cost-effective guidelines for medical education. Hence, the broad scope of this call allows us to invite papers that critically address any aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s implications for medical education.

Moving from a deficit-oriented approach toward a positive psychology of trauma and loss, we also encourage papers that address COVID-19 as a “chance” not only to improve medical education and improve health care systems and fight health disparities but to reconceptualize what these things are. These times give us an opportunity to take a step back and think more deeply about what an education for any professional practice, such as healthcare, should involve (Higgs et al 2010). In summary, Original Research, Data Reports, Study Protocols, Single Case Reports, and Community Case Studies, theoretical perspectives, and viewpoints are invited to help to improve our understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic for medical education


Keywords: COVID-19, Inter-and Interindividual differences, Medical Education, Online Education Pandemic, policymakers, Trauma and Loss, Healthcare, Healthcare Systems, Educational Experiences, Medical Professionals, Medical Students


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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01 February 2021 Manuscript
01 March 2021 Manuscript Extension

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 February 2021 Manuscript
01 March 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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