COVID-19: Lessons from the Disaster That Can Improve Health Professions Education

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42 Scopus citations


COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of the U.S. health care and health professions education systems, creating anxiety, suffering, and chaos and exposing many of the flaws in the nation's public health, medical education, and political systems. The pandemic has starkly revealed the need for a better public health infrastructure and a health system with incentives for population health and prevention of disease as well as outstanding personalized curative health. It has also provided opportunities for innovations in health care and has inspired courageous actions of residents, who have responded to the needs of their patients despite risk to themselves. In this Invited Commentary, the author shares lessons he learned from 3 earlier disasters and discusses needed changes in medical education, health care, and health policy that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed. He encourages health professions educators to use the experiences of this pandemic to reexamine the current curricular emphasis on the bioscientific model of health and to broaden the educational approach to incorporate the behavioral, social, and environmental factors that influence health. Surveillance for disease, investment in disease and injury prevention, and disaster planning should be basic elements of health professions education. Incorporating innovations such as telemedicine, used under duress during the pandemic, could alter educational and clinical approaches to create something better for students, residents, and patients. He explains that journals such as Academic Medicine can provide rapid, curated, expert advice that can be an important counterweight to the misinformation that circulates during disasters. Such journals can also inform their readers about new training in skills needed to mitigate the ongoing effects of the disaster and prepare the workforce for future disasters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1631-1633
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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