Faculty develop course to study COVID-19

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | April 13, 2020

Image with caption: From left, Sean Figy, M.D., and Regan Taylor, M.D.

From left, Sean Figy, M.D., and Regan Taylor, M.D.

Educators everywhere, from kindergarten teachers on, are having to scrap their usual hands-on classroom plans in favor of reaching students through distance learning in a time of social distancing.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an additional challenge to the UNMC College of Medicine -- where crucial clinical learning rotations were on deck, but now no longer feasible.

UNMC faculty responded by putting together a "robust" eight-week course, "Impact of Infectious Diseases," to instead study in real time how COVID-19 impacts physicians, society and the health care system.

"The great thing about UNMC is that we have world experts in so many aspects of emergency preparedness and infectious diseases," said Sean Figy, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, who co-led development of the course, with Regan Taylor, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine. "We have taken advantage of that expertise and created a truly multidisciplinary course that looks beyond the basic science and clinical science of COVID-19, but also how this affects the mind, body and soul of the community at large."

"We are so fortunate to have Sharon Medcalf (Ph.D., director of the Center for Biosecurity, Biopreparedness, and Emerging Infectious Diseases) and her colleagues in the College of Public Health who were instrumental in volunteering their time and knowledge," Dr. Taylor said. "Many of the modules and lectures we are using have been created and used in their pandemic courses."

A large contingent of physician assistant students, under the leadership of Carey Wheelhouse, assistant professor and director of clinical assessment of PA education, in the College of Allied Health Professions, will join College of Medicine students to take part in the curriculum, making it an interdisciplinary effort.

All learning and activities will be done via distance technology. In-person clinical training will be made up at a future date: "We're fortunate our calendar allows us to do that," said Kelly Caverzagie, M.D., associate dean for educational strategy.

The College of Medicine officially made its announcement to suspend all clinical activities for students on March 18.

In addition to learning modalities like virtual small groups, online lectures, e-modules and reflective writing, students will complete active service learning within the local health system or in the broader community during this infectious-diseases emergency.

Students will be assessed using a wide variety of modalities including reflection, writing assignments, quizzes, critical analysis, completion of assignments and engagement in virtual small-group activities. At the conclusion of the course, each student will produce a research paper to be presented to their virtual small group.

Dr. Caverzagie said UNMC has gotten interest nationwide in the course and how the team pulled it together so quickly.

"Faculty from every department have stepped up to the plate to contribute, despite short deadlines, and really not knowing what the next two months of clinical life will look like," Dr. Taylor said.


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Sarah Gloden Carlson
April 14, 2020 at 5:01 PM

Very exciting news!

April 13, 2020 at 3:11 PM

How can we sign up?

Elayne Saejung
April 13, 2020 at 8:54 AM

Kudos to Dr. Figy, Dr. Taylor, Dr. Medcalf, Dr. Caverzagie, and the entire development team!