One positive from the novel coronavirus COVID-19 disrupting face-to-face teaching is the opportunity it is giving health professions education (HPE) in regional, rural and remote communities, education experts from around Australia say.
Health professionals and students are commonly required to drive long distances at a cost of time and money either to themselves and their families, or the health service which employs them, four HPE experts say in a series of articles published in Rural and Remote Health.
However, this burden on regional, rural and remote (RRR)-based professionals and students will reduce if in-service, tertiary and professionally accredited training providers can embrace defensibly effective and engaging teaching approaches to make lectures, tutorials, skill education, and practice development accessible from a distance,” says SA Riverland-based Dr Amy Seymour-Walsh, lecturer in Clinical Education Development at Flinders University
As the COVID-19 crisis fluctuates from stability to crisis and back again, educators are urged not to simply return to traditional teaching as a reflex, but rather to preserve education practices which enable equitable access to education for RRR learners through pedagogically-informed online education.
Experienced and qualified educators who are based in RRR locations will be able to engage as educators to share their expertise with learners from all areas, add co-authors from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Central Queensland University (CQU) and Newcastle University – who only occasionally meet in person.
Dispersed across three different states, the series by authors Dr Seymour-Walsh, USQ lecturer Andy Bell, Associate Professor Anthony Weber from CQU and Associate Professor Tony Smith from Newcastle University collaborated entirely online to plan and write the series.
The articles take readers through three core methods of teaching common to HPE: the lecture, the small group tutorial, and the psychomotor skills session.
Each article addresses what educators are trying to achieve in each of these education modalities, and considers creative licence, consistent with pedagogical theory and principles, to enable the continuation of learning when physical distance separates learner and educator.
While some health professions educators have specialist education qualifications and expertise, others’ expertise lies primarily in the clinical domain.
This has made the task of transferring existing curricula to the fully online environment a difficult and confusing task for many who have been negotiating educational theory and principles with the significant volume of urgent work required to do so.
Face-to-face teaching cannot be directly transferred to online teaching, but many underlying principles remain the same even if they manifest differently.
The series is of particular relevance to rural and remote health professions educators.
Seymour-Walsh AE, Bell A, Weber A, Smith T. Adapting to a new reality: COVID-19 coronavirus and online education in the health professions. Rural and Remote Health 2020; 20: 6000. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH6000
Seymour-Walsh AE, Weber A, Bell A. Pedagogical foundations to online lectures in health professions education. Rural and Remote Health 2020; 20: 6038. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH6038
Seymour-Walsh AE, Weber A, Bell A. Practical approaches to pedagogically rich online tutorials in health professions education. Rural and Remote Health 2020; 20: 6045. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH6045
Seymour-Walsh AE, Weber A, Bell A, Smith T. Teaching psychomotor skills online: exploring the implications of novel coronavirus on health professions education. Rural and Remote Health 2020; 20: 6132. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH6132
Dr Amy Seymour-Walsh: Lecturer in Clinical education development at Flinders university (PhD, BHlthSci (Paramedic), GCert Intercult Stud (Internat Health Dev), GDip Div, GCert Clinical Education, AFANZAHPE)
Andy Bell: Lecturer in Paramedicine at University of Southern Queensland (PhD Candidate, MEd, BPhEd, Dip Para Sci, DipT)
A/Prof Tony Smith: Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health (PhD, MSc, BSc, DipAppSci(MedRad), FASMIRT)
A/Prof Anthony Weber: Deputy Dean Learning and Teaching at Central Queensland University (PhD Candidate, BHlth (Nursing), MHlthSci (research), MANZCP, MPA)