Spotlight on the Shift to Remote Anatomical Teaching During Covid-19 Pandemic: Perspectives and Experiences from the University of Malta

Anat Sci Educ. 2020 Sep 21;10.1002/ase.2020. doi: 10.1002/ase.2020. Online ahead of print.


Covid-19 has spread globally, affecting all nations. Preventive measures were implemented by governments including the closure of universities. The aim of this study was to evaluate the student's perspectives and experiences on the shift to remote preclinical medical education while inquiring whether there has been any psychological impact on the students. A customized questionnaire utilizing Likert-scale-based questions and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 assessment tool was distributed online to enrolled preclinical medical students at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Malta. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data gathered was carried out. Multivariate logistic regression analyses was performed to establish independent variables associated with anxiety symptoms. A total of 172 responded out of a cohort of 299 preclinical students (58%). The majority perceived a positive learning experience following the shift to remote lectures, however, it was not the case for small group teaching including dissection sessions. Nonetheless students reported concerns about their education, examinations, progression to next academic year and wellbeing. Less than half the students exhibited symptoms of anxiety. Students exhibiting "moderate" worry (OR:7.6; CI 95%:1.98-29.31; P < 0.01) and "severe" worry (OR: 2.0; CI 95%: 5.0-80.5; P < 0.01) on their mental, emotional, and wellbeing due to Covid-19 were associated with anxiety symptoms after adjusting for cofounders. Apart from the short-term effects, the Covid-19 pandemic may have a long-term impact on both the medical education and the students' future careers. It is important that the implemented changes in medical education are recorded and studied since such data will be essential on how to proceed post-Covid-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Covid-19; anxiety disorders; coronavirus; medical education; medical students.