Development of a Remote Online Collaborative Medical School Pathology Curriculum with Clinical Correlations, across Several International Sites, through the Covid-19 Pandemic

Med Sci Educ. 2021 Jan 20;1-8. doi: 10.1007/s40670-021-01212-2. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: Due to the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, in March 2020, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar decided to replace students' clinical instruction with novel online electives. Hence, we implemented an innovative online and remote pathology curriculum, anchored on virtual microscopy and Zoom videoconferencing: ideal tools to support online teaching.

Objective: To assess a new curriculum implementation at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar.

Materials and methods: This for-credit, 2-week elective included 6 synchronous Zoom sessions where complex clinicopathological cases were discussed in small groups. We used open access digital microscopy slides from the University of Leeds' Virtual Pathology Library (http://www.virtualpathology.leeds.ac.uk/slides/library/). Students independently prepared for these sessions by reviewing cases, slides, readings, and questions in advance (asynchronous self-directed learning anchored on a flipped classroom model), and wrote a final review of a case. An assessment and feedback were given to each student.

Results: Four elective iterations were offered to a total of 29 students, with learners and faculty spread over 4 countries. During the Zoom sessions, students controlled the digital slides and offered their own diagnoses, followed by group discussions to strengthen autonomy and confidence. We surveyed learners about the elective's performance (program evaluation). Students conveyed high levels of satisfaction about the elective's overall quality, their pathology learning and online interactions, with minimal challenges related to the remote nature of the course.

Discussion and conclusions: Technological innovations mitigate sudden disruptions in medical education. A remote curriculum allows instruction at any distance, at any time, from anywhere, enhancing educational exchanges, flexibility and globalization in medical education.

Keywords: Curriculum; Medical; Online; Pathology; Remote; School.