Pivot to online learning for adapting or continuing workplace-based clinical learning in medical education following the COVID-19 pandemic: A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 70

Ciaran Grafton-Clarke, Hussein Uraiby, Morris Gordon, Nicola Clarke, Eliot Rees, Sophie Park, Mohan Pammi, Sebastian Alston, Deena Khamees, William Peterson, Jennifer Stojan, Cameron Pawlik, Ahmad Hider, Michelle Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The novel coronavirus disease was declared a pandemic in March 2020, which necessitated adaptations to medical education. This systematic review synthesises published reports of medical educational developments and innovations that pivot to online learning from workplace-based clinical learning in response to the pandemic. The objectives were to synthesise what adaptations/innovation were implemented (description), their impact (justification), and ‘how’ and ‘why’ these were selected (explanation and rationale). Methods: The authors systematically searched four online databases up to December 21, 2020. Two authors independently screened titles, abstracts and full-texts, performed data extraction, and assessed the risk of bias. Our findings are reported in alignment with the STORIES (STructured apprOach to the Reporting in healthcare education of Evidence Synthesis) statement and BEME guidance. Results: Fifty-five articles were included. Most were from North America (n = 40), and nearly 70% focused on undergraduate medical education (UGME). Key developments were rapid shifts from workplace-based learning to virtual spaces, including online electives, telesimulation, telehealth, radiology, and pathology image repositories, live-streaming or pre-recorded videos of surgical procedures, stepping up of medical students to support clinical services, remote adaptations for clinical visits, multidisciplinary team meetings and ward rounds. Challenges included lack of personal interactions, lack of standardised telemedicine curricula and need for faculty time, technical resources, and devices. Assessment of risk of bias revealed poor reporting of underpinning theory, resources, setting, educational methods, and content. Conclusions: This review highlights the response of medical educators in deploying adaptations and innovations. Whilst few are new, the complexity, concomitant use of multiple methods and the specific pragmatic choices of educators offers useful insight to clinical teachers who wish to deploy such methods within their own practice. Future works that offer more specific details to allow replication and understanding of conceptual underpinnings are likely to justify an update to this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-243
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number3
Early online date23 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • clinical learning
  • online learning
  • remote learning
  • systematic review

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