Beyond COVID-19: the impact of recent pandemics on medical students and their education: a scoping review.

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Medical education online


INTRODUCTION: Over the past two years, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has greatly altered medical student education as well as daily life. Medical schools across the world were disrupted and had to immediately adapt the educational experience to the online environment in order to continue the delivery of quality medical education. However, COVID-19 was not the only recent pandemic. This posed the question, were similar disruptions and adaptations also seen in recent past pandemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that could have prepared medical educators for COVID-19? This scoping review investigated the educational and personal impact of recent pandemics on medical students.

METHODS: This review followed the PRISMA-ScR guidelines for scoping reviews. Nine databases including PubMed, ERIC, and EMBASE were systematically searched using keywords and subject headings related to medical students and SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19. Studies were limited to research studies published between 2000 and 2020 and in English. Based on exclusion and inclusion criteria, all studies were independently screened by two reviewers first by the title/abstract and then via full text. Data were extracted from the included studies and analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 174 studies fit the criteria. Seven major themes emerged from those studies: educational adaptations and online modifications, knowledge and attitudes of students, mental wellness of students, student involvement and use of telehealth, student vaccination, physical wellness of students, and stigma.

CONCLUSION: This review provided insights into how medical students were affected by recent pandemics and their perceptions of pivoting to online education, mental health, and knowledge of the diseases. Additionally, this review showcases the various educational adaptations that emerged uniquely during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as telehealth services or video conferencing tools, that can be utilized in a post-pandemic environment.





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