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Acad Med ; 96(9): 1276-1281, 2021 09 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1371750

ABSTRACT

The clinical learning environment (CLE) encompasses the learner's personal characteristics and experiences, social relationships, organizational culture, and the institution's physical and virtual infrastructure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all 4 of these parts of the CLE have undergone a massive and rapid disruption. Personal and social communications have been limited to virtual interactions or shifted to unfamiliar clinical spaces because of redeployment. Rapid changes to the organizational culture required prompt adaptations from learners and educators in their complex organizational systems yet caused increased confusion and anxiety among them. A traditional reliance on a physical infrastructure for classical educational practices in the CLE was challenged when all institutions had to undergo a major transition to a virtual learning environment. However, disruptions spurred exciting innovations in the CLE. An entire cohort of physicians and learners underwent swift adjustments in their personal and professional development and identity as they rose to meet the clinical and educational challenges they faced due to COVID-19. Social networks and collaborations were expanded beyond traditional institutional walls and previously held international boundaries within multiple specialties. Specific aspects of the organizational and educational culture, including epidemiology, public health, and medical ethics, were brought to the forefront in health professions education, while the physical learning environment underwent a rapid transition to a virtual learning space. As health professions education continues in the era of COVID-19 and into a new era, educators must take advantage of these dynamic systems to identify additional gaps and implement meaningful change. In this article, health professions educators and learners from multiple institutions and specialties discuss the gaps and weaknesses exposed, opportunities revealed, and strategies developed for optimizing the CLE in the post-COVID-19 world.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Education, Distance/methods , Education, Medical/methods , Learning , Physical Distancing , Students, Medical/psychology , Cooperative Behavior , Education, Distance/organization & administration , Education, Medical/organization & administration , Humans , Interdisciplinary Placement , Organizational Culture , Social Environment , Social Networking , United States
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