None of us in the medical training community could have imagined, as we entered 2020, that education as we knew it was going to change. A change so radical that we have had to take training out of universities and teaching hospitals and into lounge rooms and kitchens around the world.

COVID has forced us to rapidly reevaluate the education setting from the traditional to a home-based scenario.. Medical students have lost placements and the ability to gain firsthand experience in a healthcare facility, they have had to re-evaluate personal safety in their career and the confidence they have in their learning environment. Yet it is not all daunting, there are possibilities for lasting positive change in the way we educate students worldwide. The need for adaptable and accessible educational equipment is pushing device companies to rethink the way our products are used for training. So, what do we need to consider in order to move forward with this new norm?

It is important to know what platforms students are being educated through:

As the owner of a birth simulator company I am suddenly faced with a situation my team could have never envisaged. A situation also being faced by educators and medical students desperately needing training solutions. The biggest positive to come out of the current situation has been the need to innovate and adapt for learners of all ages. Terms like iso, social distancing and mask-up have become commonplace, so in response, medical Training professionals and suppliers are reinventing the way we demonstrate and educate using tools like Zoom, Teams, Lark and Skype.

From statistics taken in March this year the number of students affected by University and school closures was 1.37 billion. Many of these students are actively engaged remotely through their laptop screens and some are even taking home training devices. Many educators are seeing the benefit of online education, Dr Amjad, a Professor at The University of Jordan who has been using Lark to teach his students says,

“It has changed the way of teaching. It enables me to reach out to my students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing, especially during this pandemic. My students also find it is easier to communicate on Lark. I will stick to Lark even after coronavirus, I believe traditional offline learning and e-learning can go hand by hand.”

For an example of adaptation, at MODEL-med our simulators have proven to be robust enough and easily transportable to be used in a home based setting. We have ensured that our educators are supported by online care and training videos so they can confidently demonstrate life saving deliveries and procedures from any remote location. Our responsibility as educational device providers is to ensure our simulators are compatible with everyone’s home environment and the online platforms they are learning through.

Ask yourself these questions to ensure your educational device is compatible for online learning:

  • Is the product portable?
  • Is the product easily repaired & kept clean?
  • Are educators able to easily set up a learning environment with your product at home?
  • Can educators easily use your product over video to instruct students?
  • Can students still learn from your product even if only the educator is using it?

    Our students may be missing some opportunities but also creating new ones:

Many people who want to study to be in the medical industry are limited by their unique circumstances. Online education is creating a learning opportunity for a much broader community. For many universities, this pandemic has become about lasting adaptation.

The medical education industry is presented with a new opportunity, one that will include completely innovative learning spaces and practices. This is a chance for us as developers and educators to take a step back and ask – how can we make sure we are prepared to embrace all student learning challenges?

In the past, university education for healthcare workers has been about being inside the facilities and learning from being hands-on. Every student is unique and has different learning needs. Eager students unable to access a university opportunity due to expenses, travel and other unique circumstances were previously unable to fulfill their career dreams.

At MODEL-med we have ensured that all our simulators can be easily shipped, meaning they can easily be adapted from the traditional education environment into remote and home based situations. In times like this, companies such as ours need to find a point of difference in order to help all learners.

The future of education devices is something to look forward to and a challenge we are excited to be a part of. We see medical simulation opening up new prospects and reaching a wider audience with even greater prospects for everyone. An internet enabled smart device is all that is needed to help train the medical students of the present and future.

The question still stands – Will this current normal be here to stay?

As all our lives are rapidly changing in unexpected ways, it’s hard to not feel even more empathetic towards our healthcare workers in training. As we move forward with these challenging times, let’s educate ourselves about how we can adapt to virtual teaching. How we can adapt our products for portability and continue to tackle those hard questions, ensuring that our educational devices are suitable for use outside traditional teaching locations.

Lets adapt, innovate and educate so we can provide our eager healthcare students with greater learning opportunities. Home education can now open the door to an even wider demographic and we want to seize this opportunity to be even more inclusive.

This new distanced learning norm will be here to stay even once COVID-19 is behind us.