© 2021Olga Georgievna Safonicheva
2021 — № 2 (22)
Safonicheva O. G. (2021). Sovremennoe medicinskoe obrazovanie v period pandemii COVID-19: vyzovy i reshenija [Modern Medical Education during COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Solutions]. Medicinskaja antropologija i biojetika [Medical Anthropology and Bioethics], 2 (22).
Olga Georgievna Safonicheva, MD, is a Professor at the Chair for Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine of Nikolai Sklifosovsky Clinical Medicine Institute (Ivan Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University).
Keywords: WHO, COVID-19, pandemic, electronic informational and educational environment, remote staff, digital educational technologies, individual educational trajectories, chronic non-infections diseases, lifestyle diseases, 4P medicine, continuing medical education
Abstract. The article presents information about the forced rapid digital transformation of medical education in response to the onset of COVID-19, in the case of Sechenov University. In March 2020, days after the WHO announced restrictive measures, students and lecturers of the institution shifted to the remote education mode using the Unified Educational Portal (UEP) of Sechenov University. The fast transition to the new educational format became possible thanks to the introduction of the Digital University model that includes a management system based on data from digital educational technologies, individual educational trajectories, competencies of the digital economy; the system was developed during Sechenov University’s participation in the pilot project “5-100” and allowed it to become a leader in shaping the electronic educational environment. In early April 2020, according to the Russian Government’s Decree 844, the Federal Remote Headquarters to Fight COVID-19 was deployed at Sechenov University; the new body consulted the country’s medical institutions in a 24/7 mode. For this, all four of the University’s clinics were converted into the Unified University Hospital, where 2000 beds became available for treating COVID-19 patients, researching the disease, developing treatment strategies, and creating methodical recommendations. The forced self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic ignited the development of the telemedicine market and revealed advantages and drawbacks of a remote educational model for medical students, who before the COVID-19 pandemic took clinical courses at the patient’s bed. However, all students noted that, in the current conditions, command of digital technologies and health care data systems is a crucial competitive advantage for a modern specialist.
Soon after WHO announced restrictive measures to counter COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Sechenov University shifted to a remote learning model with the use of the university’s Unified Educational Portal (UEP). Neither students, nor teachers were ready for the rapid transition to a digital format. Most difficult in the transition was that it affected a vast contingent of students of the full continuous educational cycle: the pre-university based on medical classes at schools, higher education and post-graduate professional education (ca. 20 000 people). Also, the educators did not have the needed experience of working with digital platforms. That is why, to raise the staff’s digital competence, on March 16-22, 2020, in the frameworks of cooperation with the National Atom Research University, over 2 000 teachers of Sechenov University passed a digital skills course.
At that time, these were the main digital services utilized by Sechenov University:
- Sechenov.online, an open digital medical education portal. The portal features over 60 categories of online courses in Russian and English.
- Student.sechenov. This University-Student information system works via the student’s personal account and features classes schedule, applications templates, announcements, learning materials, tests, and teachers’ feedback.
- Do.sechenov is the Unified Educational Portal of Sechenov University, as well as the Digital Platform for Additional Professional Education.
- Ir-sechenov is the university’s international recruiting platform, which features vacancies, information on international contests, as well as other useful information for doctors and academics. Students now have the opportunity to take popular courses for free: coursera.org, openedu.ru, universarium.org, etc. Communication with the teachers takes place online, with the use of the educational portal as well as other Internet resources, e. g., Zoom, Skype, or WhatsApp.
Students are also offered a digital proficiency course. Overall, in the spring 2020 semester, some 16 000 students took courses in additional skills: “General Principles of Effective Communication in Medicine”, “Electronic Health Care”, “Work-related Legal Risks”, and “Project Management in a Medical Organization”. Included in remote higher education programs was a list of optional courses, such as “IT and E-health”, “Innovations in Health Care”, “Psychophysiology and Neurointerface”.
However, despite the difficulties, the fast transition to the new educational format became possible thanks to introduction of Digital University model that includes a management system based on data from digital educational technologies, individual educational trajectories, competencies of digital economy; the system was developed during Sechenov University’s participation in the pilot project “5-100” in 2013-2020. In 2019, Sechenov University was also included in the global project “Personnel for a Digital Economy of the Russian Federation”, organized with the help of a grant from Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education to form a consortium that would create a digital ecosystem, secure sharing of experiences and introduce the professional community and students to new world standards of information and communication technologies. Participation in the pilot projects allowed Sechenov University to become a leader in shaping an electronic education environment.
In early April 2020, according to the Russian Government’s Decree 844, the Federal Remote Headquarters to Fight COVID-19 was deployed at Sechenov University; the new body consulted the country’s medical institutions in a 24/7 mode. For this, all four of the University’s clinics were converted into the Unified University Hospital, where 2000 beds became available for treating COVID-19 patients, researching the disease, developing treatment strategies, and creating methodical recommendations. The institute’s teachers and professors, while continuing to deliver lectures to their students, also went through a cycle of additional professional education (APE) to fight the new coronavirus infection; following it, some of the teachers started working in the “red” zone.
The 2020/2021 academic year elapsed in a hybrid format, including all practical classes, master classes, as well as conferences, student olympic games and contests necessary for a continuous medical education. In one year of work in the new conditions of a digital transformation, over 1 900 lectures and 430 online courses were hosted on the Unified Educational Portal for the students of Sechenov University. During the pandemic, the platform sechenov.online become one of the most popular and sought-after not only for the students of Sechenov University but for the students of other Russian universities. Every day, the platform is being visited by over 4 600 users, 60 % of them students of other medical institutes.
In the 2020/2021 academic year, the system of continuous medical education was in high demand as well – a pre-university based in medical classes in schools. In the frameworks of the university project “School-University-Clinic”, professional training of pupils of 10th and 11th school grades in medical and biological programs is being carried out. Enthusiastic labor of the whole medical community in fighting COVID-19 has significantly raised the prestige of doctor’s work. In general, in 2021 Sechenov University’s enrollment board enlisted 2600 budgetary basis students, including 1886 specialist program students and 140 magistrates, 808 of them (42 %) in the frameworks of targeted recruitment. For the most popular professions – Medical Care, and Pediatrics – the contest was 38 applicants per position. The highest average Unified State Examination rate was among applicants of Medical Care program – 95, Pediatrics program – 92, and Clinical Research Associate program – 98.
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