The Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Education

Cureus. 2020 Mar 31;12(3):e7492. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7492.


In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is abundantly clear to all the necessity of studying the pathology and widespread health consequences associated with the virus. However, what is much less clear is the impact of COVID-19 on medical education. Already, faculty and medical students are grappling with the changes that have been made and attempting to consolidate these with their plan of career development. Changes that may seem relatively minor in comparison to the global pandemic have the potential to be drastic turning points in the career progression of many. As not much is known regarding the long-lasting impact of COVID-19 on medical education, it is therefore also necessary to record and study the full impact of the changes being made. The path to entering a successful residency has been predictable for the last few years - do well on Step 1, give conference presentations, go the extra mile in clerkships and shadowing opportunities, and have meaningful non-academic extracurricular activities - all of which designed to best demonstrate a student's knowledge, persistence, collaborative spirit, and dedication to medicine. This trajectory has been changed with COVID-19 disrupting routines in hospitals, medical schools and beyond. The replacement of in-person classes with online equivalents is an obvious necessity at this time but creates a loss of collaborative experiences that has the potential to be a significant detriment to education. Likewise, the cancellation of clerkships, which are necessary for both skill acquisition as well as for relationship building, is a serious issue which students and medical schools must now resolve. Many medical students have also lost the opportunity for personal development through conference presentations. These presentations play a large role in distinguishing applicants during the residency application process, and therefore these lost opportunities have the potential to be a serious detriment to medical students' career trajectory. While implementing technology to help resolve these issues is a unique way to help students to develop these skills, it is now necessary for medical students to demonstrate the same set of skills which they would have previously in a completely new and innovative manner. Persistence and adaptability during this time of challenge are attributes that medical students can demonstrate more readily. While every student has a personal story of how COVID-19 has impacted their education, there is no question that the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt on an extensive level. The panic in the community is palpable, and many are confused by how to proceed in the wake of COVID-19. This is no different for medical students and faculty and the questions that arise regarding medical education and their future careers.

Keywords: acgme; coronavirus; graduate medical education; graduation; pandemic; usmle.

Publication types

  • Editorial