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Livestreaming clinical experience to remotely located learners: A critical narrative review.

Medical Education 2024 April 13
CONTEXT: Medical education relies on real patient learning (RPL) to provide medical students with essential clinical experience. However, growing demand for clinical placements continues to be a challenge in providing sufficient RPL opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic forced academic institutions to rethink the delivery of traditional clinical training and innovations in online clinical learning experiences, specifically livestreamed clinical experiences, have emerged which show promise in addressing the capacity limitations of traditional placements. Although previous reviews have explored the use of livestreamed clinical experiences during the pandemic, there is a lack of rigorous theoretical framing to support these innovations.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this review is two-fold: to examine the effectiveness of livestreamed clinical experiences through an experience-based learning (ExBL) theory perspective and to provide practical recommendations to optimise and implement these innovations.

METHODS: A review of literature was conducted to identify journal articles published between September 2019 and January 2023 reporting on innovations relating to livestreamed clinical experiences. The search focused on undergraduate and postgraduate medical education but relevant evidence from other healthcare professions were also included due to a limited evidence base. Strengths and weaknesses were derived from the literature and analysed in relation to ExBL components.

RESULTS: Principal strengths of livestreamed clinical experiences included expanded access to RPL opportunities and medical specialties, enhanced standardisation of learning experiences and positive perceptions from students regarding convenience. Clinical educators found these innovations enabled teaching at scale. Patients did not perceive such innovations to negatively impact their standard of care. Limitations included the inability to practice physical examination skills, challenges in ensuring learner engagement and connectivity issues.

CONCLUSION: Livestreamed clinical experiences have the potential to effectively expand placement capacity and provide high-quality educational experiences for medical students. Although certain limitations exist, technological and pedagogical adaptations can help overcome these challenges. The application of theoretical frameworks to future online innovations will be fundamental to ensure effective clinical learning.

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