Virtual teaching was a learning curve for professors as well.
Suhad Daher-Nashif, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the College of Medicine at Qatar University, said that when teaching moved to the virtual world she had a challenge keeping her lectures interactive.
“I began to discover games that could stimulate interaction and thinking among students,” she said. “Perhaps I will not use it later, but I think that the future lectures will be a hybrid of our old methods and what we learned during the pandemic.”
To help maintain students’ attention for longer, Nashif divided the lecture into a recorded theoretical part and an unrecorded discussion part to encourage students to focus and participate more freely.
Al-Moslih said that overall students at the College of Medicine maintained the same level they had before the pandemic, which indicates that the changes to the training process did not affect their acquisition of the required skills. However, he said there are questions that remain unanswered.
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“Were the nonverbal skills of students affected?” he asked. “When communicating with a patient, doctors pay attention to body language and other nonverbal hints, but we think that these skills were nonexistent online.”
A Maturing Experience
Arayssi agrees that despite all the advantages of virtual learning, “there’s nothing better than face to face, whether for teaching, learning or patient care.”
“Our clinical curriculum is designed to make students responsible for taking care of patients from day one, under supervision,” she said. “That is a piece that cannot be done at all virtually.”
Still, Arayssi thinks that studying during the pandemic was a great maturing experience for medical students.
“I think this new generation of physicians is going to be different,” she said. “I think they are going to be more accepting of uncertainty, more compassionate and kind, more aware of inequities in this world and more aware of the effect and importance of globalization and the connection between the global north and global south.”
To read more about the novel coronavirus in the Arab region and how it has affected education, research, culture and the arts, see a collection of articles from Al-Fanar Media