Enhancing rheumatology education during the COVID-19 pandemic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Rheumatology International








COVID-19 pandemic; Education; Innovation; Telemedicine


© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE part of Springer Nature. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rheumatology educational programs around the world, face the daunting challenge of maintaining education for their trainees. Reduced in-person clinic exposures and social distancing requirements have significantly affected trainee education. Similar to programs around the USA, in early March 2020, our program was faced with an urgent need to pivot both our clinical and educational programs to virtual platforms. Within these limitations, we harnessed innovative educational models and restructured our curriculum to ensure adequate clinical and didactic exposure. We divided trainee’s clinical rotations into four blocks, which include Inpatient consult service, Outpatient in-person and procedure clinics, Telehealth Clinics and Research/Elective week. By assigning specific rotations, we were able to ensure fellows were seeing adequate numbers of patients both through telemedicine and inperson while ensuring we complied with social distancing requirements. We further were able to ensure that trainee hands-on procedure training was not compromised. Acknowledging challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and learner engagement in virtual environment, we designed an innovative educational portfolio. Utilizing synchronous and asynchronous learning methods, we have developed multiple complementary educational initiatives including: Rocket Rheumatology, Board Games, At the Elbow, Radiology Reading Rheum, Ultrasound Buddies, The History Rheum, and Rapid-Fire Journal Club. Virtual learning methods will become a cornerstone of medical education moving forwards. The GW Division of Rheumatology has rapidly incorporated innovative educational tools into our curriculum. Our approach will help Rheumatology training programs across the globe enhance rheumatology training.