ALiEM Connect: Large-Scale, Interactive Virtual Residency Programming in Response to COVID-19

Acad Med. 2021 Apr 20. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004122. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Problem: The COVID-19 pandemic restricted in-person gatherings, including residency conferences. The pressure to quickly reorganize educational conferences and convert content to a remote format overwhelmed many programs. This article describes the pilot event of a large-scale, interactive virtual educational conference model designed and implemented by Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM), called ALiEM Connect.

Approach: The pilot ALiEM Connect event was conceptualized and implemented within a 2-week period in March 2020. The pilot was livestreamed via a combination of Zoom and YouTube and was archived by YouTube. Slack was used as a backchannel to allow interaction with other participants and engagement with the speakers (via moderators who posed questions from the backchannel to the speakers live during the videoconference).

Outcomes: The RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) framework was used for program evaluation, showing that 64 U.S. Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited emergency medicine residency programs participated in the pilot event, with 1,178 unique users during the event (reach). For effectiveness, 93% (139/149) of trainees reported the pilot as enjoyable and 85% (126/149) reported it was equivalent to or better than their usual academic proceedings. Adoption for ALiEM Connect was fairly good with 64/237 (27%) of invited residency programs registering and participating in the pilot event. Implementation was demonstrated by nearly half of the livestream viewers (47%, 553/1,178) interacting in the backchannel discussion, sending a total of 4,128 messages in the first 4 hours.

Next steps: The final component of the RE-AIM framework, maintenance, will take more time to evaluate. Further study is required to measure the educational impact of events like the ALiEM Connect pilot. The ALiEM Connect model could potentially be used to replace educational conferences that have been cancelled or to implement and/or augment a large-scale, shared curriculum among residency programs in the future.