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Innovation helps UAMS train next generation of medical professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Institution of higher education are facing a number of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Institution of higher education are facing a number of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is no exception.

Innovation is helping UAMS train the next generation of medical professionals safely during this pandemic.

“We're learning to be flexible,” said Dr. James Graham, the university’s Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

UAMS sent all students home on March 13. Seniors are back in the hospital now. Juniors are taking online classes, and UAMS plans is to have all students back on campus by August.

“We are making plans to ensure appropriate social distancing within our classrooms, appropriate disinfection of classroom spaces,” Graham said.

The university is also utilizing online platforms for lectures and discussion groups when possible. However, Graham noted the need for hands-on training.

“You don't want your surgeon learning to do their appendectomy just watching an online video,” he said.

Part of their instruction includes time in the simulation lab. That allows students to undergo clinical skills training while also minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Part of the online curriculum for juniors and seniors this spring was a two-week COVID-19 course developed by UAMS virologists and infectious disease specialists.

“The idea was that when these students did get back in the clinic we wanted them to be experts on this new infection -- everything from the basic virology, the structure of the virus to what happens in a pandemic and how the infection is transmitted,” Graham said.

According to Graham, students will be required to answer COVID-19 screening questions and have their temperatures checked before entering UAMS education buildings.

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