How COVID-19 is Affecting Medical Education

The onset of the coronavirus has changed the world as we know it. Health systems, in particular, have been under more pressure than they were initially prepared for. With healthcare practitioners being overwhelmed by this pandemic, we rarely discuss the impact on medical students and pre-med students. In an ideal world, medical education would proceed as normal. The unfortunate truth, however, is that medical students and educators have to deal with an entirely new set of challenges, on top of the difficulty of the studies themselves.

Whether you are already a med student or are still getting your med school application requirements ready, it’s important to know how these changes will affect your experience. From the USMLE Step 2 CS experience, to shadowing for med school applications, there are a few obstacles to overcome. Here are some ways the pandemic is shaping medical education in 2021 and beyond.

eShadowing as an alternative to in-person job shadowing

Job shadowing has long been a way for pre-med students to learn more about the medical profession while gaining some valuable clinical experience ahead of med school applications. These days, students have had to turn to online shadowing opportunities while tutoring services and schools have had to come up with ways to offer these opportunities. While it is not quite the same as an in-person experience, eshadowing can still be a great way for prospective med students to immerse themselves in the medical world.

The USMLE Step 2 Experience

After being on hold from May 2020, USMLE Step 2 CS was permanently cancelled in January 2021. Prior to the pandemic, there had already been questions about the necessity of the USMLE Step 2 CS experience, especially considering the expenses it incurred for students. As such, the cancellation of the exam has come as a huge relief for many, as it now means that there is less of a financial investment involved in becoming a qualified physician.

Getting comfortable with e-learning

One of the most notable changes that has come with the pandemic is the shift towards e-learning, even outside of medical education. This has been integrated through live and pre-recording audio and video lectures, online self-study and study groups, and a general increase in e-communication. For many, e-learning comes with some challenges. From a lack of social interaction and a greater need for independent time management, to an unavoidable decrease in practical education, it has been difficult. Part of doing well as a student during a pandemic requires the ability to adapt and deal with such challenges.

Tutors are now more valuable than ever

Considering the difficulty of being a med student during this time, the need for tutoring and mentorship is becoming more evident. When the whole world’s morale is low and self-motivation dwindles, having a mentor and tutor by your side is priceless. By helping you stay on track with your studies, manage your workload and excel at whichever part of the journey you’re on, a tutor will prove themselves to be an absolute necessity. Whether you are navigating the new USMLE Step 2 experience or just about to prepare for your MCAT, the guidance of a med school tutor is now more important than ever.

Source: Studying for usmle step 1.

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