Addressing Equity in Global Medical Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Global Medical Education Collaborative

Acad Med. 2021 Jul 13. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004230. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Problem: The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique set of challenges to medical education globally. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have faced unique barriers in transitioning to virtual modalities, and many medical students in LMICs experienced dramatically reduced educational time. The authors created the Global Medical Education Collaborative (GMEC) to address this problem by providing free, online, case-based tutorials to medical students in LMICs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approach: The authors developed a needs assessment to gauge students' educational requirements, which informed GMEC's 2 primary goals: to provide free access to interactive online tutorials for students in LMICs and to bridge the physical distance between educators and learners via an online platform. A pilot program in Nigeria (May 2020) helped inform the current strategy and logistics. Tutors and students were recruited via social media and medical education networks at the authors' home institutions.

Outcomes: Within the first two months (April 2020 through June 2020), 324 students representing 12 countries and 20+ medical schools joined GMEC. Additionally, 95 physicians and trainees joined as tutors and, collectively, delivered 52 tutorials. Students responded to a needs assessment querying confidence in various clinical domains, interest in covering clinical topics, barriers to virtual learning, and the effect of the pandemic on their education. Tutors held one-hour, interactive tutorials over Zoom covering a variety of clinical topics. According to surveys, 91% of students (71 of 78) felt more confident in the material related to the tutorial's topic after participating.

Next steps: GMEC will continue to engage students, tutors, and collaborators to facilitate the delivery of innovative, high-quality tutorials to students affected by COVID-19 in LMICs. To ensure that the platform is sustainable and aligned with GMEC's mission to promote equity in global medical education, the collaborative will need to be agile and responsive.