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Best Practices for Designing a Virtual Advanced Clinical Elective in Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Last Updated: March 24, 2021


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, undergraduate medical education and patient care quickly transitioned to the virtual setting to support social distancing efforts and to preserve PPE. In order to reintroduce clinical opportunities for senior students, we created an advanced virtual clinical elective in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. During this entirely remote two-week elective, the schedule was equally divided between synchronous clinical duties and asynchronous learning. Using a variety of technological platforms, the advanced student was integrated into both the inpatient antepartum service (e.g. attending daily rounds, writing notes, and paging consults) and outpatient prenatal care (e.g. remote ultrasound reading, lactation clinic, and Maternal-Fetal Medicine consults). Asynchronous learning was conducted through online conferences, small group Zoom didactics, and independent study time. We have created two resources based on our experiences - (1) a compilation of our orientation materials and course resources and (2) a summary of best practices for optimizing team dynamics, student assessment, and technology within a virtual advanced elective. The current pandemic has heightened the need for telemedicine exposure within undergraduate medical education, as well as resources supporting remote or hybrid electives in the event of future surges. We hope this information will provide insight into creating meaningful virtual training for students interested in Ob/Gyn.


Caitlin Radford, BA, Harvard Medical School (caitlin_radford@hms.harvard.edu)
Ilona Telefus Goldfarb, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology