COVID-19 education is challenging because of the disease’s unknown trajectory and lack of clinical best practices. The continuously changing nature of today’s public health crisis also calls for thoughtful approaches to educating and disseminating pandemic-related information to overstretched healthcare professionals. To better understand what it looks like to educate clinicians on COVID-19 and how that can be done successfully, we sat down with Edward King, executive vice president at Clinical Care Options (CCO) and Practicing Clinicians Exchange (PCE).
Future Healthcare Today (FHT): Thanks for joining us, Edward. Why is it important to educate clinicians on COVID-19?
Edward King (EK): Thanks for having me. It’s important to educate clinicians on COVID-19 for several reasons. First, it’s a new disease, and with any new disease there’s an abundance of questions. With COVID-19, there were initially no established best practices, much less a clear understanding of the trajectory of the virus. What was initially perceived to be purely a respiratory infection is far more complex and impacts multiple systems within the body. Some people experience no symptoms whereas for others their symptoms are life-threatening. While the risk factors for those differences are becoming clearer it’s still far from entirely predictable. With all that in mind, a new disease like COVID-19 is going to require ongoing and multifaceted education.
FHT: How does COVID-19 education differ from educating clinicians on other topics?
EK: Nearly all diseases change over time, particularly so for a newly emergent disease like COVID-19, so there’s an ongoing need for regularly updated education. A further challenge in medical education in general is that today’s busy clinicians have limited time to engage with activities designed to keep them up-to-date. For the clinicians on the frontlines battling the COVID-19 pandemic, they have especially small windows of time for this education, yet it’s obviously much needed in order for them to provide optimal care. This means COVID-19 education needs to be delivered in the most effective and time-efficient manner possible.
FHT: What are the barriers or challenges associated with educating clinicians about today’s public health crisis?
EK: The main challenge with COVID-19 is that it’s new and so is the content of the education. It’s not as though there’s an established body of knowledge on the disease and how to treat it – all the information we know is unfolding in front of us in real-time. To that point, the information and treatment strategies that clinicians need to master are evolving, and that means the education needs to be nimble and responsive; it can’t be ‘one and done.’ The best practice today will not necessarily be the best practice in a week or two, let alone a month or two. This is clearly seen in terms of treatment options; in just a few months we’ve gone from no proven therapeutic strategies to two well-proven treatment options. The final challenge is that COVID-19 education developed for clinicians needs to be highly accessible – to be engaging without occupying large chunks of their time. We are keen advocates of micro-learning strategies, which means breaking down education into bitesize chunks that busy clinicians can fit into the available gaps in their schedules.
FHT: What are some best practices to educate clinicians on COVID-19?
EK: The most important best practice is to make it easy for clinicians to access education on COVID-19. It’s important to have resources readily available in a variety of content types, like a one-stop shop. Clinicians need trusted sources where they can find the educational content — in all and any formats — that will ultimately help them better serve patients.
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