Responding to COVID-19: What we learned in 2020

Mary Anne Reid, Kirsty A T Forrest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessionalpeer-review

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Introduction: This article summarises a report published in July 2021 by Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand (Medical Deans), the peak body representing the 23 medical programs in Australia and New Zealand. It explores how medical schools responded to the early impacts of COVID-19 in 2020, and how they might build on some of the changes to achieve fundamental improvements in medical education in Australia and New Zealand.
Methods: The Medical Deans report was based on: Responses to a survey midway through 2020 of its member schools about their experiences during the initial lockdowns; the contributions of presenters at the Medical Deans 2020 Annual Conference; subsequent discussions among communities of practice.
Results: Innovations introduced in response to the pandemic, included greater equity of learning opportunities across geographical locations; health services taking more responsibility for clinical placements; greater emphasis on competencies and less on clinical rotations in specific disciplines; strong collaboration between medical schools, and with providers in the medical training and research pipeline. Challenges include balancing the benefits of online learning with the need for human connection and a chronic lack of clinical training opportunities in community-based care.
Conclusion: While the impact of the pandemic on medical education and training was costly for all involved – both financially and personally – the scale of disruption provided a unique opportunity for step change. To fully realise this potential moving forward, medical schools will need to work in partnership with all those involved: students, health services, prevocational training, specialist colleges, regulators and governments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalThe Asia Pacific Scholar
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2022


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