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Medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic: What students missed and what they did not. A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study.

BACKGROUND: Medical education was and still is challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and several strategies were implemented by the universities worldwide in order to maintain a good level of education. The aim of this work is to point out how strategies adopted in a German university hospital reached students and how comfortable they felt with the proposed solutions in order to define future possibilities in modern teaching.

METHODS: A questionnaire was answered by medical students at the end of the 8th and 10th semester in a German university hospital asking them about their perception of medical education during the pandemic as well as about strategies adopted by the faculty.

RESULTS: A total of 92 out of 117 students answered the questionnaire (78.6% response rate). Students felt disadvantaged in their medical education because of the pandemic on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely) (5.34±2.3, range 0-10 points), regardless of semester, gender, and whether they aimed at a surgical career or not. During the pandemic they missed practical exercises most (93.5%), followed by contact with other students (65.2%). Presence lessons were missed (28.3%) the least. Among the strategies offered to maintain education, recorded lessons were appreciated most, followed by skills labs. Live-stream lessons were considered less comfortable.

CONCLUSIONS: Several aspects of medical education were replaced satisfactorily during the pandemic, others need to be adapted in the future in order to meet the students' needs and expectations. Theoretical online education but not live stream lessons could be an option beyond COVID-19 as they are highly appreciated by students.

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