Teaching Telehealth During a Pandemic and Beyond: an Intern's Survival Guide for Virtual Medicine

J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Jul 21;1-5. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-07009-8. Online ahead of print.


Background: The rapid transition to telemedicine at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic required many providers to learn telemedicine "on the fly." As virtual care will likely remain a mainstay of outpatient medicine, it is imperative that telemedicine training be incorporated into graduate medical education.

Aim: Design a telemedicine curriculum for internal medicine residents based on principles of experiential learning.

Setting: VA-based internal medicine primary care clinic.

Participants: Sixteen first-year internal medicine residents participated in the curriculum.

Program description: The curriculum included a didactic session followed by four simulated patient encounters focused on troubleshooting technical issues, performing the virtual physical exam, coordinating team-based care, and tackling emergencies.

Program evaluation: Participants reported minimal previous experience with telemedicine. After completing the training, resident confidence in conducting video visits increased from an average score of four to seven (on a 10-point scale). Residents were more likely to agree that video visits would allow them to build bonds and effectively address their patients' needs. This increased confidence persisted at 3 months after training.

Discussion: Using experiential learning, we identified strategies which increased the confidence of internal medicine trainees in conducting telemedicine visits. Further research is needed to validate our findings across different practice settings.

Keywords: experiential learning; medical education; telehealth; telemedicine; video visits.