March 20: Added wellness resources;
A Letter from the Vice Dean for Educational Affairs
March 12, 2020
Last night I emailed you about the ways our College of Medicine was responding to the COVID-19 situation. I asked for your understanding about the uncertainty we are living with right now. And, I reached out for your help and support as we move through this difficult time together.
I did not know last night how prescient those words would be. We have continued to work closely with the College of Medicine leadership these past 24 hours, to reassess the expanding extent of the pandemic, and to consider how the now increased spread of COVID-19 may impact your safety. As a result of this evolving picture, Dr. Black, myself and the rest of the College of Medicine leadership decided early this evening that we needed to accelerate the timeline for changes to 100% online class formats to optimize your safety and the safety of those with whom you interact. We ask for your support and patience as we institute this accelerated timeline across our MD and PA programs.
- The College of Medicine MD and PA programs will fully institute online/remote learning strategies for all lectures, anatomy/imaging, FPCC and small groups, effective Monday 8:00 am, March 16, 2020. No in-person classes will be held for MD or PA students, and details will follow.
- In addition, remote/online strategies will also be instituted for all didactics in the clerkships and clinical rotations, as well as for Kienle groups. These changes will be effective Monday 8:00 am, March 16, 2020. Clinical clerkships, clinical rotations and electives will otherwise continue as currently planned. The exception is the MD Health Equity clerkship, which will be adapted to ensure that requirements can be accomplished in a safe setting. Details will follow about the Health Equity Clerkship.
- Some of the remote/online teaching methods may require that all members of the class, clerkship or clinical rotation participate at the same time; other methods may be completed more flexibly. We will work with you to ensure that the learning objectives of the courses and clerkships can be met effectively.
- For Phase 1 MD students, there are some teaching activities that will stop as of 5 pm tomorrow, March 13th. These include face-to-face meetings with the patients and families in the Patients as Teachers Program, though you will continue to be responsible for a final project. Likewise, all Patient Navigation site activities end Friday, March 13th, though any final patient navigation assignments will need to be completed.
- The April Primary Care Preceptorship Week for year one MD students will be cancelled. The program directors will work with you to inform the preceptors of this unexpected change.
Please refer to the new COVID Student Website. Updates for our PSCOM Students can be found at https://sites.psu.edu/comcovid/ Please go to this website regularly to refer to documents and policies and to find updates.
The College of Medicine and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are actively using information from the CDC, AAMC and Department of Health every day – hourly – to guide the institutional response to COVID-19. Our goals for accelerating the online/remote learning timeline are you to keep you safe, keep others safe, and help to mitigate the rate of COVID-19 disease spread.
We will continue to communicate with you regularly as we know changes will be ongoing. Please contact any of the education leaders with your suggestions, questions and concerns. We cannot succeed without you.
Vice Dean for Educational Affairs
Penn State College of Medicine
March 11, 2020
I am writing this evening to update you on the thoughtful planning that is taking place with the leadership in our College of Medicine and at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center about the COVID-19 situation. We are working together to ensure your safety and the continuity of your learning experiences as a student in our College of Medicine during this unprecedented time. Your safety and your learning are our highest priorities.
By now you have received Dr. Kevin Black’s evening message to clarify that while the University is planning a three-week period of online classes following its spring break, the College of Medicine classes, laboratory research and clinical rotations will continue as currently scheduled.
My message tonight is a beginning, as there will be many messages that we will send to you over the coming days and weeks. I will highlight some actions that have already been put into place and follow up tomorrow with more details. I know that you understand the uncertainty we are living with right now, and ask your help and support as we move through this difficult time together. Most importantly, if you do not feel well, please stay home. Right now, that is the most effective action any of us can take.
At present the following actions have been implemented:
- Website: We are nearly finished establishing a website that will serve as your source of information and regular updates. I will send that link to you tomorrow. Go to that website regularly to obtain the most updated information relevant to our MD and PA students about COVID-19 and relevant curricular adaptations.
- Clinical Care of Patients with COVID-19: Although it is important for your education and training that you understand what is involved when there is a threat and/or presence of a special pathogen, no MD or PA student will be directly involved in the care of a patient known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19. There is a “special pathogen” team that had previously been trained (at the time of the Ebola outbreak) and these individuals, along with additional faculty, will be the primary, direct care providers if a patient were to be diagnosed with the virus.
- Clerkships and Clinical Rotations: Students in their clinical years are members of the health care team and can provide meaningful clinical care. Clinical clerkships, clinical rotations and electives will continue as currently planned. The exception is the MD Health Equity clerkship, which will be adapted to ensure that requirements can be accomplished in a safe setting. Details will follow about the Health Equity Clerkship.
- Classroom-based Courses: Per Dr. Black’s email, all courses will currently continue as scheduled. We are actively assessing alternative online methods to deliver educational programs, so we are prepared for any circumstances that would restrict convening for in-person classes. We will share our planning details with you in a subsequent communication.
Please look for a detailed communication tomorrow, March 12th. We will continue to update you on this evolving situation. Please email or stop in to the offices of any of our education leaders with your questions and concerns. Please reach out.
Vice Dean for Educational Affairs
Penn State College of Medicine