Thursday, April 01, 2021

Simply the best (Musing on healthcare educators during COVID-19)

I've meant to write this blog for awhile. I'm privileged to look after the mailing lists for University of Alberta's Medical Laboratory Science. As such, even though I no longer teach in the division, I get all messages to students and staff plus more. The blog will focus on medical laboratory education but I suspect it rings true for other health professionals. Had help with ideas for the blog from a former student of mine, who I won't identify at this time.

The blog's title is based on a ditty written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman, but best known by Tina Turner's recording of it.

Where to start. I'll need to speak in generalities because it differs depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in educators' areas. Sample list of key adaptations heath profession educators had to make:
1. Managing the chaos of ever-changing information. Suspect most people know how hard this is as regulations and policies regularly change as new evidence becomes available. Good example is the changing advice on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as research and real world evidence become available.

2. Online learning. This was a major transition, involving putting course material online. Much harder for instructors who didn't use Powerpoints regularly, instead had in-class activities. 
Not all students enjoy online learning as much as face-to-face interaction with classmates and instructors, nor do the assignments, required pre-reading, etc. That's true for in person classes too but worse with online learning. Plus it's much easier to be distracted when text messages arrive as today's students pretty much have their cell phones on at all times.

Online learning also put much stress on university, community college, and technical institute IT departments.

3. In introductory courses, depending on when the pandemic was declared, students had a different laboratory experience than in prior years when all routine labs and a final exam were performed before entering the clinical year. Similarly, for other pre-clinical experiences such as phlebotomy visits to outpatient labs, etc.

Ultimately, some in-person introductory lab courses resumed, but required many adaptations in student labs. Examples: Fewer students in each lab space (e.g., one lab becomes two), shower curtains erected for students facing each other on the same bench, between labs sanitizing high touch areas (door knobs, bench areas, reagent bottles).

4. In the clinical year, depending on when the pandemic was declared, students were pulled from the sites until safety precautions could be put in place. This required re-scheduling.

5. Depending on how many institutions, healthcare organizations are involved, processes and procedures could differ, requiring educators to meet the needs of each.

To me all healthcare educators deserve a loud round of applause for how they've had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic to constantly changing regulations and policies. In some ways I'm glad I retired decades ago as I would have found this difficult even then.

Chose this song because to me healthcare educators have been simply the best during COVID-19 pandemic. To me they're heroes similar to those on the frontlines.
As always, comments are most welcome (you can do so anonymously or by name below) and  there are some.


  1. Thank you for the update. I can't imagine having my Med Tech program online without a lab. It was all about the "hands-on" learning for me.
    I moved to Canada from the US in December and unfortunately cannot work as a Med Tech anymore due to the histology requirement in Canada. I miss the work but look forward to my transition into my MSc in Library Science.
    Thank you again for sharing your experiences.

  2. Thanks,Unknown. Suspect all before COVID-19 had hands-on training. Some still do with appropriate precautions in place.Wish you'd read my 2012 blog: Want to work in Canada as a medical technologist? Forget it!

    1. Rachael Pound1:36 PM

      Oh I read it! Your blog is a great resource for me. That's one of the reasons I knew I would have to find a new career. Thanks for all of your information.

    2. Thanks for replying, Rachel. Despite major difficulties some from USA have managed to get certification from CSMLS, though I know personally of only one. I respect your choice & wish you all the best with MSc in Library Science. Tidbit: The blog I mentioned has received the most comments I've ever had on any of my blogs. Glad it was useful.