Lessons learned from organizing and evaluating international virtual training for healthcare professionals



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Lessons learned from organizing and evaluating international virtual training for healthcare professionals

JournalInternational Journal of Medical Education
Article typeLetter
Publication date – Apr – 2022
Authors – Tamara Gaolyan, Lynn Kysh, Armine Lulejian, James Dickhoner, Abu Sikder, Mindy Lee, Eyal Ben-Isaac, Juan Espinoza
KeywordsCOVID-19 pandemic, education, Medical training conferences, virtual training
Open access – Yes
SpecialitySurgical education
World region Global

Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on April 12, 2022 at 7:54 am

Education is a critical part of capacity building in global health partnerships.1 Medical training conferences designed for providers in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) address equity in global health by reducing financial, political, and language barriers.2 However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted gatherings, added further travel restrictions, and exhausted already strained financial resources for individuals from LMICs to attend conferences. To continue providing quality education, training, and professional development in the midst of the global crisis, organizations had to rapidly transition to virtual platforms.3,4 The pandemic has accelerated the process of adoption of innovative technological solutions, including learning management systems (LMS) (e.g., Moodle, Canvas) and virtual meeting platforms (e.g., Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting) that transcend geographic and temporal boundaries, enhancing the potential of reaching a wider audience. This has also had the benefit of addressing some of the preexisting barriers for conference attendees from LMICs.
This transition was not unprecedented; as early as 2009,The US Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sectors report by the US Institute of Medicine5 created a framework to guide investments and implementation in global health, including sharing knowledge, investing in people and institutions, and engaging in respectful partnerships. Virtual international meetings have been held successfully prior to the pandemic in response to environmental concerns and financial limitations.6-10 Prior studies documented the benefits of utilizing online formats for medical education, including training healthcare professionals via virtual conferences.11 Among those benefits include saving time, resources, and money.11,12 In addition, virtual conferences help healthcare associations and universities increase their global outreach by forming international partnerships and collaborations, as well as disseminating their research at a global scale.11 Despite their benefits of online and virtual formats, researchers indicate that evaluating the effectiveness of online platforms for medical education still remains a challenge.12,13 To address the challenge, our multidisciplinary team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) partnered with the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP) to co-host a series of three international virtual training conferences on ophthalmology and pediatrics for healthcare professionals in the Republic of Armenia and its surrounding regions between September 2020 and February 2021. The conference planning began in December 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned to a fully virtual format in June 2020. Our evaluation strategy included a collection of quantitative and qualitative data from the conference participants through a post-conference survey and semi-structured interviews on their experiences and perceptions. Below, we are sharing the lessons learned from the process of organizing and evaluating virtual training conferences.

OSI Number – 21554

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