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Kalin Gregory-Davis ’22 participates in a telemedicine simulation with standardized patient Bob Bolyard.

Telemedicine: From Bed-side to Web-side

In just a few short months, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred countless innovations in medical education, especially at the Larner College of Medicine. Among them, a new course for third- and fourth-year medical students focused on telehealth, a type of care many patients have become accustomed to due to pandemic-related social distancing guidelines.

Developed by UVM Clinical Simulation Laboratory Education Director Cate Nicholas, Ed.D., the asynchronous online course, “Telemedicine: From Bed-side to Web-side,” utilizes a 42-session module developed by the American College of Physicians. It also includes a presentation and documents developed and collated by Nicholas with input from Elise Everett, M.D., the level director of the clinical curriculum and associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, to educate students about the intricacies of this increasingly important form of medical care. Topics covered in the presentation include proper attire, physical space, and camera placement; telemedicine security; billing; and physician directed physical exams. Students practice web-side verbal and nonverbal communication skills, how to determine necessary follow-up physical exams, and how to document telemedicine visits during a remote encounter with a standardized patient.

Nicholas says that students will likely be expected to support telemedicine visits during their clerkship rotations and to provide this type of care during their residencies and future medical careers.

Nicholas and Everett have presented the course to various programs and departments at the UVM Medical Center, at several virtual conferences, to the AAMC Directors of Clinical Skills Group, and to the American Medical Association. In the coming months, they hope to work with the UVM Medical Center to formally include students in telemedicine patient visits.

Ph.D. trainee Inessa Manuelyan

Hidden Opportunities: Graduate Education in a Pandemic

While much of higher education successfully pivoted to remote learning during the pandemic, graduate education has been faced with a unique set of challenges, particularly for those further along in their training. Doctoral students have had to alter—or in some cases, stop—laboratory research, have been unable to attend important in-person networking events, and seen significant shifts in job prospects both in industry and academia. But riding that wave of change, says Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training and Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics Christopher Berger, Ph.D., will, in the end, make them stronger and more resilient scientists.

“As they look back on this period, I think they’ll find out that they got more from this than they lost,” he says, adding that, “with every set of challenges comes opportunity.”

Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. trainee Inessa Manuelyan saw the lab where she works, run by Associate Professor of Medicine Jason Botten, Ph.D., shift its focus exclusively to SARS-CoV-2 research. “I essentially reapplied the goals of my dissertation [the Zika virus outbreaks of 2015 and 2016] to a new virus,” says Ms. Manuelyan. “I think being able to very quickly lay the groundwork to shift focus to an undeniable force such as this pandemic is the reality for a lot of virologists and it’s a good experience to go through with regards to my training. [The pandemic] has likely solidified my commitment to virology.”

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