Background: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine (TM) experiences in undergraduate medical education were uncommon. When students’ clinical experiences were interrupted due to the pandemic, TM education provided opportunities for students to participate in clinical care while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Objective: To assess the prevalence of TM experiences in the internal medicine (IM) core clerkship experience prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during interruption in clinical clerkships, and following the return to in-person activities at US medical schools. Design: The Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) survey is a national, annually recurring thematic survey of IM core clerkship directors. The 2020 survey focused on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a section about TM. The survey was fielded online from August through October 2020. Participants: A total of 137 core clinical medicine clerkship directors at Liaison Committee on Medical Education fully accredited US/US territory–based medical schools. Main Measures: A 10-item thematic survey section assessing student participation in TM and assessment of TM-related competencies. Key Results: The response rate was 73.7% (101/137 medical schools). No respondents reported TM curricular experiences prior to the pandemic. During clinical interruption, 39.3% of respondents reported TM experiences in the IM clerkship, whereas 24.7% reported such experiences occurring at the time they completed the survey. A higher percentage of clerkships with an ambulatory component reported TM to be an important competency compared to those without an ambulatory component. Conclusions: The extent to which TM was used in the IM clinical clerkship, and across clinical clerkships, increased substantially when medical students were removed from in-person clinical duties as a response to COVID-19. When students returned to in-person clinical duties, experiences in TM continued, suggesting the continued value of TM as part of the formal education of students during the medicine clerkship. Curricula and faculty development will be needed to support TM education.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine