The recent outbreak of the COVID‐19 altered the traditional paradigm of clinical medical education. While individual clerkships have shared their curricular adaptations via social and academic networking media, there is currently no organizational standard in establishing a non‐clinical, Emergency Medicine (EM) virtual rotation (VR). The primary objective of this study was to describe EM clerkship directors’ (CDs) perspectives on their experience adapting an EM VR curriculum during the onset of the COVID‐19 pandemic.
A 21‐item survey with quantitative and qualitative questions was disseminated between June and August 2020 to EM CDs via the Clerkship Director of Emergency Medicine (CDEM) Listserv to describe their experience and perspectives in adapting a VR during the spring of 2020.
We analyzed 59 out of 77 EM clerkship survey responses. Among respondents, 52% adapted a VR while 47.5% did not. Of those who adapted a VR, 71% of CDs had 2 weeks or less to develop the new curriculum, with 84% reporting usual or increased clinical load during that time. Clerkships significantly diversified their asynchronous educational content and utilized several instructional models to substitute the loss of clinical experience. Reflecting on the experience, 71% of CDs did not feel comfortable writing a standardized letter of evaluation for students based on the VR, with the majority citing inability to evaluate students’ competencies in a clinical context.
A crisis, such as COVID‐19 necessitates change in all facets of medical education. While EM educators demonstrated the ability to create emergency remote learning with limited time, this was not equivalent to the formal development of pre‐planned VR experiences. Future faculty development and curriculum innovation are required to fully transition an in‐person immersive experience to a non‐inferior virtual experience.