A New Environment in Medical Education in Post-COVID-19 Times

EDUMECENTRO 2022;14:e1674


A New Environment in Medical Education in Post-COVID-19 Times

Un nuevo entorno en la educación médica en tiempos pos-COVID-19


Ileana García López1* https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3300-1803
Lázaro Roque Pérez1 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5944-6694
Noemy La Rosa Hernández1 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3106-3269
Nubia Blanco Barbeito1 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0359-9157


1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Faculty of Medical Sciences of Sagua la Grande. Villa Clara. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email: ileanagl@infomed.sld.cu




The application of social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of face-to-face medical education, and imposed its continuity in the distance learning modality. Inevitably this led to a debate and uncertainty about the best actions to follow to avoid negative impacts on the training of future health professionals. In this article, the authors propose to share with the scientific community some considerations that should be put into practice in medical education to face the challenges posed by the post-COVID-19 stage.

MeSH: coronavirus infections; education, distance; education, medical


La aplicación de las medidas de distanciamiento social durante la pandemia COVID-19 produjo la suspensión de la educación médica presencial, e impuso su continuidad en la modalidad de educación a distancia. Inevitablemente esto conllevó a un debate y una incertidumbre sobre las mejores acciones a seguir para evitar impactos negativos en la formación del futuro profesional de la salud. En el presente artículo los autores se proponen compartir con la comunidad científica algunas consideraciones que se deben poner en práctica en la educación médica para enfrentar los retos que supone la etapa pos-COVID-19.

DeCS: infecciones por coronavirus;educación a distancia, educación médica



Submitted: 17/07/2020
Accepted: 04/11/2021



The COVID-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise. Nobody could foresee with sufficient anticipation the magnitude of the disease and less, the economic, political, social and educational consequences that it would have; in the latter case, university education was not prepare to face it.

In Cuba, as in other countries in the world, the application of social distancing measures led to the suspension of face-to-face medical education and imposed its continuity in the distance learning modality, with the incorporation of students to the active surveillance of symptomatic patients with respiratory diseases as a primary activity to face COVID-19 in the nation.(1,2) However, this disconnection from the usual face-to-face teaching activities led to a debate and uncertainty about the best actions to follow to avoid a long-term negative impact term in the formation of the future professional.

About it, García-Peñalvo (3) proposes several challenges that the university system will have to face after this first wave of the pandemic, in the short, medium and long term, which correspond perfectly with medical education, according to him: in the short term, to close the current academic year with the options that have been suddenly applied, both to teach the classes and to evaluate. Although they will not have been the most appropriate from the point of view of their educational design, it must be emphasized that a response has been given in record time; in the medium term, in the 2020-2021 academic year, it will not return to the normality to which it was accustomed before confinement. We will have to learn to live with this virus. To the situations of adaptation of the physical classrooms, it will be necessary to add a redesign of teaching with the incorporation of virtual scenarios, either as a complement to the measures adopted or new states of confinement in the worst case; in the long term, every crisis has its positive effect. In this case, COVID-19 has been an unforeseen accelerator for the electronic transformation of university teaching.

Medical education needs to put into practice strategies that allow it to face the challenges posed by the post-COVID-19 stage, without giving up its fundamental objective: to graduate humanistic health professionals and with a quality according to the needs of society.

During this stage, it is necessary to strengthen the work with the four key learning elements that Unesco proposes for education in the 21st century: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learn to be.(4) Everyone must learn to know in this new scenario, that is, to meet the objective of understanding and being able to discover or create new knowledge, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic and teachers must guarantee it, because, in the face of this uncertain future, the educational function must continue. Further use should be made of the opportunities provided by information and communication technologies, especially multimedia applications that include videos to support the development of skills, both clinical and preclinical.

Undoubtedly, the use of technology has gained great prominence in the context of the pandemic, to the point of stating the reflection: is the clinical environment essential for the teaching of Medicine or can it be replaced by virtual reality?(5) Faced with this question, the authors consider that in Cuba there still does not exist a sufficient technological infrastructure to think about it, so that Cuban medical education, despite teaching readjustments, should never dispense with the in-service training as a way to contribute to the formation of the skills and practical habits that characterize professional activities, as well as the epidemiological surveillance actions that students have been carrying out for some time to identify patients with prodromal signs and / or symptoms of diseases such as dengue, zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. These activities contribute to developing the vocation of service,(6) in turn will be enriched by the experiences of the current active surveillance of respiratory diseases carried out by students, which not only has a positive impact on them, but also on society. These are elements that teachers should intend so that students do not stop learning to do in the new context.

It is also important to note that at this stage thinking about the official curriculum is excessive. From now on, there will be no talk of a conventional pedagogy;(5) in post-COVID-19 time, a reflective and supportive pedagogy will be required. In this sense, they have advantages in the curriculum of medical sciences, social sciences, history and philosophy, which could greatly help to make the base curriculum more flexible. These disciplines, according to their content, can use what happened during the pandemic from the social point of view, to facilitate their classes without losing the essence of each of the programs, something that can never be renounced, since they are the ones that lead to the student the knowledge that allows them to understand and evaluate the importance of the social system and social economic development in the maintenance of health and the prevention of diseases, hence its importance for students to learn to live together as health professionals.

Another element to bear in mind is that the situation generated is highly emotional and it will be difficult for an educational proposal to be successful from now on if it doesn`t math with the emotions and the situation experienced by each of the students.

The classes from now on should promote a more humanized change in the training of the professional so that they respond to not only economic-social needs, but also to be able to face with empathy the challenges that are presented to them in daily life; in short, that students learn to be.

In this new panorama, once the classrooms are resumed, the teacher's voice must be the beacon of hope that society longs for so much, where flexibility, responsibility, empathy and solidarity should be the watchwords.(5,6)

Like other times in life, a tragedy has been an opportunity to change things, to generalize alternative solutions; in this case, to improve medical education.



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Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Authors' contribution

Design and methodology of the article: Ileana García López and Lázaro Roque Pérez
Bibliographic review: Ileana García López, Lázaro Roque Pérez, Noemy La Rosa Hernández and Nubia Blanco Barbeito
Preparation and review of the final draft: Ileana García López, Lázaro Roque Pérez, Noemy La Rosa Hernández and Nubia Blanco Barbeito



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