Harvard Macy Community Blog

Fostering the ongoing connectedness of health professions educators committed to transforming health care delivery and education.

April 2021 #MedEdPearls: Teaching in the aftermath of COVID-19: Applying principles of trauma-informed care to our return to classroom teaching

One year ago, I contributed a MedEdPearl titled "Mastering Adaptive Teaching in the Midst of COVID-19" that offered strategies for maintaining teacher, social and cognitive presence during our rapid transition to remote online learning. And now, I consider our needs as educators as we prepare for the possible transition back to the classroom this fall. Unlike last year, though, this possibility is conflated by more issues than merely the learning environment. As I write this blog, I reflect on a recent opinion article titled "America Isn't Ready for the Coming Wave of Grief." In addition to the direct human cost and long-haul effects of the pandemic, delayed mourning, physical isolation, economic burden, and exaggerated inequalities have compounded the toll on our collective mental health. So once again, I find myself asking how we as medical and health professions educators can prepare, stay resilient and step courageously into this unfamiliar territory?  

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A PEACEful approach to virtual teaching

Have you found yourself wishing your virtual teaching was more PEACEful? In this blog post, we draw on two theoretical frameworks – Cognitive Load Theory and Self Determination Theory – to outline five key steps for improving your virtual teaching. Together with my colleagues Dr. Deepa Rangachari and Dr. Jeremy Cetnar, we generated a useful mnemonic for these key principles of virtual teaching: PEACE.

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Silver Lining of the New Virtual World: Virtual Mentoring

This post was inspired by a recent assignment I completed as part of the Harvard Macy Program for Educators in the Health Professions. We were asked to write about a “silver lining” that transpired from the COVID-19 pandemic. I struggled with thinking of something positive when I was surrounded by so much loss, including parents of my patients struggling with employment and food insecurity, and even death. However, I challenged myself to recognize my privilege and, in my reflection, I was able to consider how my professional life had actually improved in a very noticeable way.

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Zoom, Bloom and the Virtual Room

Amid all of the pandemic’s tragedies, our medical students’ education could not be another sacrifice.  Before COVID-19, our third year medical student clerks spent four days a week seeing patients at their family medicine preceptors’ offices, and then gathered back in the classroom on Fridays for a robust didactic curriculum. It was a day both to review core topics and to get together as a group with breakfast and lunch, the latter a not-so-hidden feature of the program intending to alleviate some of the inherent loneliness of a non-hospital-based rotation comprising one student intensely working with one preceptor.

Alas, COVID-19 hit. After a spring hiatus, masked students returned to their clinical duties, but all in-person classroom programming was suspended. Enter virtual learning!

Recent Comments
Guest — Patrice Thibodeau

Contact info as requested

I can be reached at pthibodeau@UMHS-SK.net. Thank you!
Monday, 05 April 2021 8:08 PM
Deborah R Erlich MD MMedEd FAAFP


Hi Dr. Thibodeau, Thank you for your lovely comment! Happy to share our materials! Can you send me your contact information? Warm... Read More
Monday, 05 April 2021 7:07 PM
Guest — Patrice Thibodeau

Mechanics on creating Virtual ...

Hello Dr. Erlich, I really enjoyed reading your blog entry. Teaching medical students this past year has surely been challenging a... Read More
Friday, 02 April 2021 6:06 PM
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Is it better to “Zoom out” than to fade away? Combating burnout created by online teaching

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all teaching and learning has gone online. The protective benefits of this scenario are that it facilitates in the continuation of education via distance or blended learning in safer, more socially distant environments. However, it has created a stressful situation for some health professions educators, whose personal and work lives are now a blur causing “techno stress” and burnout. Constantly interacting through a box on your screen is not ideal for medical professionals, and we have done much improvisation in our teaching practices. This blog post discusses instructional strategies which would help teachers combat frustrations created by online sessions.

Recent Comments
Guest — Zakia Saleem

well done

It will be a helpful blog for busy medical educator to create work life balance .Good to read.
Tuesday, 23 March 2021 3:03 PM
Guest — Ambreen Ansar

Well written with some good su...

Agreed to zoom out rather than fading out!
Tuesday, 23 March 2021 3:03 PM
Guest — Shazia

Is it better to fade out to zo...

Well written df komal
Tuesday, 23 March 2021 3:03 PM
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