Challenges and Opportunities of Preclinical Medical Education: COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond

SN Compr Clin Med. 2020 Sep 22;1-6. doi: 10.1007/s42399-020-00528-1. Online ahead of print.


COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted face-to-face teaching in medical schools globally. The use of remote learning as an emergency measure has affected students, faculty, support staff, and administrators. The aim of this narrative review paper is to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by medical schools in implementing remote learning for basic science teaching in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We searched relevant literature in PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar using specific keywords, e.g., "COVID-19 pandemic," "preclinical medical education," "online learning," "remote learning," "challenges," and "opportunities." The pandemic has posed several challenges to premedical education (e.g., suspension of face-to-face teaching, lack of cadaveric dissections, and practical/laboratory sessions) but has provided many opportunities as well, such as the incorporation of online learning in the curriculum and upskilling and reskilling in new technologies. To date, many medical schools have successfully transitioned their educational environment to emergency remote teaching and assessments. During COVID-19 crisis, the preclinical phase of medical curricula has successfully introduced the novel culture of "online home learning" using technology-oriented innovations, which may extend to post-COVID era to maintain teaching and learning in medical education. However, the lack of hands-on training in the preclinical years may have serious implications on the training of the current cohort of students, and they may struggle later in the clinical years. The use of emergent technology (e.g., artificial intelligence for adaptive learning, virtual simulation, and telehealth) for education is most likely to be indispensable components of the transformative change and post-COVID medical education.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Challenges; Online learning; Opportunities; Preclinical medical education; Remote learning.

Publication types

  • Review