TAMPA, Fla. — Universities like USF are working to make sure students don’t fall behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine is setting an example for other programs.
“We really infused that building with technology and part of the back end infrastructure really was enabled by the fact that we’re a Microsoft school of innovation, the first medical school of innovation,” said Dr. Bryan Bognar, Vice Dean for Education at the Morsani College of Medicine.
The college opened back in January and the software and IT technologies that were built into the facility has allowed the program to quickly adapt.
“Really has been a difference-maker for us at the College of Medicine in terms of pivoting to living in an online world,” said Bognar.
In March, the school had to pull students out of all clinic settings, like Tampa General Hospital, where they get a lot of their hands-on experience.
Officials were able to almost immediately move most of the curriculum online.
“It was critical for us to be able to allow them to continue the virtual components of their learning,” said Bognar.
They’ve been able to move all lectures and classes online and are now using a telemedicine approach to give students practice with doctor and patient interactions.
“We were able to replicate a lot of what we did in our Center of Advanced Medical Learning,” said Bognar.
Once students begin the med school program, they can’t afford many breaks to stay on track, and take major national assessments.
School officials say this has been a challenging education experience for a program that relies heavily on human interaction.
“There’s really no substitute for that direct patient, doctor-patient student interaction and again we know we can’t completely replicate that. For example, hands-on skills such as learning physical examinations, procedure skills, those types of things are hard to replace,” said Bognar.
Leaders have done everything they can to make sure students can still continue their journey online and don’t anticipate any delayed graduations at this point.
“A lot of what has been into the new College of Medicine allows us to have a reach within the city, the region, and so I would hope that folks have seen the leadership role that USF Health and the College of Medicine have taken to address the pandemic,” said Bognar.