Medical Student Perceptions of the Learning Environment, Quality of Life, and the School of Medicine’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Single Institution Perspective

Eric W. Villanueva, Hannah Meissner, Ryan W. Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, American medical schools made swift changes to clinical education based on guidelines provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The purpose of this study was to collect medical student perceptions of the solely online learning environment, their quality of life (QoL), and the pandemic response by their School of Medicine (SoM) to provide suggestions to inform medical schools’ responses during the continuation of this pandemic and the next. Methods: Between April 29, 2020 and May 16, 2020, the authors distributed a 60-item questionnaire that assessed demographics, learning environment, QoL, and the SoM response. Likert-type items were analyzed on an item-by-item basis, whereas themes were identified for open-ended questions. Results: A total of 330 medical students (of 632; 52.2%) responded. Those who responded had positive perceptions of the online learning environment with moderate QoL disruptions to concentration and sleep. Although most students perceived being able to contribute meaningfully to the healthcare setting, they viewed themselves as underutilized. Three themes encapsulated both positive and negative perceptions of the SoM’s response—communication, learning environment, and empathy and support. Conclusion: These findings provide insight into medical student perceptions of their learning environment and QoL as they acclimated to changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Results can help inform a SoM’s response during the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as during future pandemics or crises. Follow‐up surveys of medical students at multiple institutions across the USA and abroad will be essential to better characterize student perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Science Educator
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education

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