UAMS COVID-19 course alters pandemic curriculum for medical students

“For years, maybe decades, this group of medical directors will be teaching our health profession students these lessons for a long time.”

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — While we have watched schools change the way classes are taught remotely these past months, what about those students who are studying to be frontline workers?

It’s not just changing from in-person classes to online classes, at UAMS faculty had to develop a whole new course within just a couple of weeks.

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A COVID-19 course that, according to Executive Associate Dean of the College of Medicine Dr. James Graham, could possibly change the way pandemics are taught for years to come.

“For years, maybe decades, this group of medical directors will be teaching our health profession students these lessons for a long time,” he said. 

What was once just general concepts and a smaller portion of the curriculum, quickly turned into a mandatory two-week course that every medical student had to complete with subjects changing daily, according to Graham.

“We would cover transmission of viruses or infections or contagiousness,” he said. “We have continued to update it, so as we learned more about the virology and the clinical care and about drugs that do and don’t work to care for it,” he said. 

The course, Graham said, not only teaches the fundamentals, but the wider picture of this virus.

“We tried to focus on everything from the basic microbiology of the organism, all the way up to clinical care,” he said. 

Dr. Graham said with so much that has changed over the past eight months, he hopes students grasped the value of flexibility, resilience, compassionate care, and lifelong learning.

“All of those lessons, I think, are more apparent now than they ever have been,” he said. 

They’re lessons that Graham said won’t just stay in 2020, but continue to help shape our future frontline heroes.

“If we don’t learn these things and then teach our students and prepare for the future, we’d be making a terrible mistake,” he said. 

There are portions of the course available online for the public, but if you are a healthcare professional and want access to the whole course, you can reach out to UAMS.

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Dr. Graham said the College of Medicine has also seen a record number of applications this year. 

There are over 3,000 applications for the 174 spots in the school.