"I Have a Cough": An Interactive Virtual Respiratory Case-Based Module

MedEdPORTAL. 2020 Dec 17;16:11058. doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.11058.


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has radically disrupted traditional models of medical education, forcing rapid evolution in the delivery of clinical training. As a result, clinical educators must quickly transition away from in-person sessions and develop effective virtual learning opportunities instead. This virtual resource was designed to replace a clinical simulation session for the physical examination course for medical students in the preclinical years.

Methods: We designed an online interactive module in three sections for preclinical (first- or second-year) medical students who had not yet learned the respiratory physical exam. The first section incorporated demonstration and practice of the components of the respiratory physical exam that could be effectively taught via videoconferencing software. Following this, students conducted a telemedicine encounter with a standardized patient and received patient-centered feedback evaluating their communication skills. The final segment involved a case discussion and clinical reasoning component.

Results: These sessions were implemented for 122 first-year medical students. The module was well received by the students. A majority felt that it helped improve their telemedicine communication skills (93%), interpretation of physical exam findings (84%), development of differential diagnosis (95%), and correlation of clinical and basic science content (93%).

Discussion: Our pilot educational session demonstrates that this virtual instruction method is an effective tool for teaching basic clinical skills during medical school. Virtual learning resources allow remote instruction to take place and can be a supplement when face-to-face clinical teaching is not possible.

Keywords: Clinical Teaching/Bedside Teaching; Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Medical Knowledge; Online/Distance Learning; Patient Care; Physical Exam; Professionalism; Standardized Patient; Telemedicine Competencies; Virtual Clinical Teaching; Virtual Learning.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Formative Feedback
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Pandemics
  • Physical Examination* / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis*
  • Remote Consultation
  • SARS-CoV-2