How the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic changed medical education and deans' perspectives in Korean medical schools

Korean J Med Educ. 2021 Jun;33(2):65-74. doi: 10.3946/kjme.2021.187. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Purpose: This study explored how the Korean Medical Colleges responded to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the medical deans' perspectives on what and how these adaptions influence the present and the future of medical education.

Methods: An email survey combining short and open-ended questions was distributed to all 40 Korean school deans in May 2020. Thirty-seven deans out of 40 medical schools in Korea (92.5%) participated.

Results: Most lectures moved online but students' assessments were delayed and later held onsite. Clinical rotations continued except for an average of 3-week suspension during the first COVID-19 wave. The deans' remarks on the positive influences far outweighed the negative impact of COVID-19 on medical education. Although technological adaptations caused initial hardship, the experience gained through the use of various online learning systems led to attitudinal changes on the importance of adopting new technology and a tailored and student centric curriculum in medical education.

Conclusion: The deans' perspective changes has shown the possibility of the deans' generation aligning more closely with the current Generation Z medical students. They projected further innovations in teaching and learning methods, especially applying flipped learning and highlighted the need to invest in faculty development so medical educators can be equipped and competent in diverse ICT (information and communications technology) learning platforms. Also, the need for advance preparations in medical education for future similar public health crises were stressed. Unprecedented changes brought by COVID-19 positively impacted Korean medical education in parts and the Korean deans envisioned further innovations using the experiences gained during this crisis.

Keywords: COVID-19; Deans’ perspective; Korea; Medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • COVID-19*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Distance*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Republic of Korea
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching
  • Technology