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Issue 17 - Virtual medical education, what's new at Pulsenotes & more...

Issue 17 - Virtual medical education, what's new at Pulsenotes & more...
By Pulsenotes • Issue #17 • View online
Evening team!
It’s been TOO long!
After a summer break we’re back up and running with the Pulsenotes newsletter. We’ll be keeping you up to date with what’s going on at Pulsenotes including our LIVE lectures, new video SHORTS, recently uploaded topics and hundreds of questions.
This week we’ve got a terrific article on virtual medical education by our very own Pulsenotes student rep Gemma Swann. With the ongoing changes to local and national lockdown rules, virtual medical education is more important than ever!
We’ll be getting more great articles throughout the year so lots to look forward to! Finally, we want to give a shout out for the National paediatric fundraising week! Check it out below.
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Virtual medical education
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to the world of medicine including education. With no immediate end to the pandemic in sight, we have seen a complete overhaul in the design and delivery of medical education within the UK. As of mid-April, 191 countries implemented school and university closures, impacting 1.57 billion students[1]. Since the return of teaching this Autumn, medical schools across the UK have introduced online alternatives to deliver their curricula, or so-called ‘virtual medical education’ (VME).
Benefits of VME
VME enables delivery of education to large numbers of students, improving accessibility, as well as access to novel high-quality learning resources. Pressure on educational organisations to provide alternative teaching in a short time period has led to accelerated development of new educational technologies. This includes delivering education through virtual reality, augmented reality, AI-enabled software and the increased use of simulation-based clinical and virtual patient training[1]. VME also offers greater flexibility for learning. Students get an improved work-life balance with access to 24/7 online teaching platforms and the option to work ‘anytime, anywhere, at any pace’. This is particularly important for those who have acquired new carer or work responsibilities over the pandemic.
The online environment also offers a certain degree of anonymity and mitigates factors such as age, race, gender, and disability. Unfortunately, discrimination within medical schools is still very common. In 2018, approximately two thirds of students in one UK medical school experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment[2]. Therefore, removal through the increasing use of VME improves the quality of education and is less likely to be impacted by prejudice.
Drawbacks of VME
One of the most apparent problems of this new era of medical education is the unreliable nature of even sophisticated technology. We’ve all suffered from infuriating issues surrounding connection problems. When technology is unreliable, the learning experience is diminished. It assumes each learner possesses a certain level of computer literacy to navigate the online environment and abide by so-called computer “netiquette”. It also assumes that everyone has equal access to internet and the latest devices or software, which risks worsening economic inequality among students[3]. In this regard, we hope universities will make it their upmost priority to support students with access to the online learning environment during this period of education.
VME also shifts responsibility away from educators and towards students. Online teaching appears to suit students with a high degree of self-motivation and self-discipline. When faced with more flexible ’24/7’ learning, students who thrive in traditional classroom-based lessons may struggle. Undoubtably, we need ways to promote small-group learning online that will drive peer-to-peer team-work to help students remain engaged. We know that full engagement improves retention of information and enhances learning[4]. Nevertheless, it’s apparent that the online environment doesn’t compare to the real in-person experience of university education.
Without question, COVID-19 means that medical education must be adapted in a way that optimises student learning. VME has facilitated the advancement of educational technologies and fosters flexible learning with improved work-life balance. However, we need to ensure all students have equal access to online educational technologies and universities need to ensure an online curriculum is current, supported and engaging. Now more than ever, we must continue to adapt to the current situation and prepare for a future with VME.
  1. 10 tech trends getting us through the COVID-19 pandemic [Internet]. World Economic Forum. 2020 [cited 25 September 2020].
  2. Broad J. et al. Discrimination, harassment and non-reporting in UK medical education. Medical Education [Internet]. 2018. 52(4):414-426. [cited 25 September 2020]
  3. Skochelak S, Stack S. Creating the Medical Schools of the Future. Academic Medicine [Internet]. 2017. 92(1):16-19. [cited 26 September 2020]
  4. Atreya A. et al. Distant virtual medical education during COVID‐19: Half a loaf of bread. The Clinical Teacher [Internet]. 2020. 17(4):418-419. [cited 26 September 2020]
Gemma Swann
What's new at Pulsenotes?
LIVE lectures
We’ve just released our new FOUNDATIONS series covering basic anatomy and physiology of the heart, kidney, liver, lung and thyroid. These lectures are FREE TO EVERYONE.
  1. Sunday 18th October 11:00 am BST - Pulsenotes LIVE: The Liver.
  2. Sunday 25th October 11:00 am GMT - Pulsenotes LIVE: The Lung.
  3. Sunday 1st November 11:00 am GMT - Pulsenotes LIVE: The Thyroid.
Missed the first two weeks? All LIVE events will be available for members after the lecture at!
Video ‘SHORTS’
We know your time is precious, that’s why we’ve created our new video SHORTS. It’s the same great Pulsenotes content condensed into shorter lectures. Everything you need to know in under 15 minutes.
Check out our first video SHORTS on ‘Acute Coronary Syndrome’. We’ll be uploading more in the coming months! Enjoy.
New content
We’re constantly updating our content library. Here’s just a flavour of the things we’ve uploaded over the last few weeks:
Shout out: National Paediatric Fundraising Week
On the week commencing 12th October, Paediatric Societies from 28 Universities around the country will be fundraising on both a local and national scale. As a group we will be travelling 16 million meters; representing the number of children within the UK. Alongside this we will be fundraising on a local scale for a charity which directly impacts our local communities via bake sales, quizzes and other events.
Our chosen National Charity is YoungMinds. They help adolescents and young adults by providing mental health support and meeting the needs of those who are vulnerable and/or feel excluded. They have been a leader in empowering children and young people across the UK since 1993. We hope to raise one million pounds.
We will be using the free app Strava to record the meters that are covered in this week. Anyone – student, healthcare professional, family member, etc. – can record any running, walking, cycling or swimming done during the week to help us reach our 16 million meters.  
To find out more regarding local charities and events, as well as how to join our Strava group, follow @nationalpaedsfundraising on Facebook and Instagram plus @paedfundraising on Twitter.
Final words
Remember to get in contact with any questions, suggestions, or topics that you wish to be covered!
Thanks for reading, remember to tell your friends, and see you next time!
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