Medical students consulting from home: A qualitative evaluation of a tool for maintaining student exposure to patients during lockdown

Med Teach. 2020 Oct 12;1-8. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2020.1829576. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: Lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic had a disruptive effect on medical education when they prevented medical students accessing real patients. To address this, we piloted 35 medical students at home consulting remotely with patients.

Method: We evaluated the intervention using qualitative analysis of post-experience interviews with a sample of 13 students and 10 clinical supervisors.

Results: The experience was perceived by all those interviewed to be both acceptable and educationally valuable. Data analysis revealed different models of implementation according to type of patients involved (acute, recently treated or expert patients) and type of communication platform used (AccuRx, Microsoft Teams or telephone). Practical and educational challenges were identified in relation to the following elements of the experience: patients consulting with students remotely, students being remotely supervised and students undertaking patient contact from home. Strategies for addressing these challenges were directly suggested by interviewees and also inferred from our analysis of the data.

Conclusions: Remotely supervised medical students at home undertaking remote consultations with patients can be acceptable and educationally valuable. The intervention was piloted in a UK graduate entry medical course and so it would be useful to replicate this study in other medical student populations.

Keywords: Clinical skills; clinical; communication skills; medicine; undergraduate.