New Workgroup Focused on Improving How Colleges Train the Next Generation of Doctors

October 01, 2020

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, osteopathic medical colleges, like most institutions of higher education, have had to adapt to new ways of delivering their curriculum. Online classes and remote learning have become more widespread, and institutions have rapidly adopted new procedures and information systems to accommodate these changes.

AACOM’s Transforming Medical Education through Technology (TIME) adaptive workgroup was formed to assist its member schools in investigating ways to use technology to permanently transform medical education. Although the impetus for forming the workgroup was COVID-19, its members are working on procedures and methods to make lasting improvements in how medical education is taught.

“This year’s challenges have given us a rare opportunity to transform how medical education is being done,” said Jeff Tjiputra, DSc, AACOM’s Chief Information Officer. “We're looking for ways to make a permanent advancement in our medical education systems and provide schools with the tools and technology they need to create a more robust education program that benefits faculty and students.”

The group gathered faculty, staff and technology vendors who specialize in online learning to research, design and develop new curriculum or teaching approaches. Some of these approaches include:

  • facilitating faculty development in online learning,
  • reducing institutional costs through shared curriculum resources,
  • and creating virtual platforms to teach osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to students.

“Technology has always been a critical part of health care delivery and a growing part of medical education,” said Alissa Craft, DO, MBA, Western University’s Assistant Vice President, Program Development, and a member of the steering committee. “The COVID-19 pandemic has simply accelerated our need to integrate technology in all forms into our education and practice. However, the application of technology is similar to the science of medicine—it must be integrated with the hands-on experiences, so we can truly teach and practice both the art and science of osteopathic medicine. That is the ultimate goal of this group: to make that integration accessible to all of our osteopathic medical schools.”

Thus far, the group has surveyed the nation’s colleges of osteopathic medical education on the state of their technology use, and developed an online library for schools to share technology resources. They’ve also submitted and received a $30,000 grant from the American Medical Association to develop a Health Systems Science course using gamification as a shared curriculum. Over the next few months, the group intends to create a faculty development program for online education that demonstrates the full capacity of technology in online education.

“There are many areas in which new resources and technology can assist our students and our schools,” Tjiputra said, “and these advancements will contribute to an overall improvement in the way medical colleges train our next generation of doctors.”