Transforming University of California, Irvine medical physiology instruction into the pandemic era

FASEB Bioadv. 2020 Dec 15;3(3):136-142. doi: 10.1096/fba.2020-00082. eCollection 2021 Mar.


At the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine (UCISOM), the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the transition of face-to-face didactic lectures to online platforms. Institutions nationwide have opted to transition their lectures into remote instruction for the upcoming Fall 2020 academic year. UCISOM's pre-clerkship Medical Immunology course in the Spring 2020 serves as a template for other medical courses to successfully transform lecture content into virtual presentations. To help facilitate successful large-scale transition to online courses, UCI developed institutional support and implemented a Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) Fellowship and iMedEd programs to support medical educators throughout Summer. Previously developed E-learning modules for renal and acid-base physiology serve as the foundation for novel pulmonary E-learning modules at UCISOM. In preparation for the new academic year, in a collaboration between faculty, UCISOM's top performing second-year medical students (MS2s) and DTEI fellows worked together during the summer to transition UCISOM's Medical Physiology and Pathophysiology course online. With over 100 first-year medical students attending the Medical Physiology course over live synchronous Zoom instruction, formative and summative assessments were incorporated into Canvas modules along with peer-led review sessions and new E-learning modules to educate and monitor student progress. The course will maintain existing in-person active learning activities for students to get hands-on experience using the latest medical devices while maintaining social distancing. Successful transition to online medical education at UCISOM will depend on increasing use of formative assessments, increased utilization of peer-led review sessions, and efficient communication to help foster self-directed learning.

Keywords: COVID‐19; E‐learning modules; formative assessments; medical physiology; self‐directed learning; undergraduate medical education.