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Pandemic Prompts Creative Learning Model Creation

March 10, 2021

Amidst surges in adult patient volumes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, trainees in pediatrics faced a strange and paradoxical phenomenon: a dearth of pediatric patients. Social distancing led to a sharp decline in influenza and other childhood illnesses, while school and elective procedure cancellations further lowered patient volumes. Our resident primary care clinics temporarily shut down as visits were postponed and moved to video or phone, disrupting continuity of care for our patients and their families. Traditional residency didactics such as morning reports and noon conferences were not physically possible, and we missed teaching medical students who were removed from the wards. As both learners and emerging teachers in pediatrics, we recognized that COVID-19 demanded creative thinking and prompt action to preserve educational spaces.

On the same day that our Minnesota stay-at-home order began, we launched “CO-VIDEO Learning in Pediatrics,” a resident-led collaborative virtual learning series. Our community of residents, incoming interns, and medical students on pediatrics rotations across four inpatient clinical sites in addition to outpatient electives gathered via the Zoom platform. Interns and residents volunteered to give talks alongside peer-nominated fellows and attendings (including guests from other institutions), sharing our passions and expertise. We now gather three days each week to teach and learn from one another, creating a sense of togetherness despite disruption in our daily routines and uncertainty about the future. 

We challenge CO-VIDEO educators to be creative. Sessions have included powerpoints, chalk-talks, case-based learning, and parent panels. Question prompts throughout presentations encourage learner engagement and problem solving, via audio and chat and break-out rooms. QR-codes enable immediate evaluations which are shared with educators to help improve future teaching. Overall, participants have rated sessions highly effective with a mean score of 4.69 across all sessions (Likert scale of 1-5, with 5 being very effective), and open-ended responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Sessions conclude with a general wellness check-in, without an agenda.

The breadth of knowledge and expertise that we strive to attain as trainees cannot be compromised in light of a pandemic. Our resident-led response to COVID-19 has enabled innovative thinking in health professional education that shows promise of permanency. For programs like ours where trainees rotate across multiple sites, interactive virtual learning can enhance long-term peer-to-peer and near-peer learning and connection as well as improve access to faculty both within and beyond our institution. With resident-led initiatives such as CO-VIDEO, opportunities for collaboration become virtually endless. 

About the Authors

Sarah A. Swenson, MD, DPhil; Zachary R. Shaheen, MD, PhD; and  Trisha K. Paul, MD are resident physicians at the University of Minnesota. Johannah Scheurer, MD, FAAP, is a neonatologist with M Health Fairview and serves as their faculty advisor. 

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