‘Hold the course(s)!’ – a qualitative interview study of the impact of pandemic-triggered contact restrictions on online instruction in community-based family medicine teaching

Front Med (Lausanne). 2023 Aug 2;10:1231383. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2023.1231383. eCollection 2023.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been identified as a catalyst for the digitalization of medical education. Less is known about the specific impact of the pandemic on decentralized, community-based education, such as in General Practitioner practices. The aim of this study is to understand the impact of the digital transformation process, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As, family medicine courses involve both university-based and community-based teaching, this study focuses the mode and quality of instruction and instructors in family medicine teaching. A qualitative interview study was conducted. The participants (N = 12) of a multi-perspective Quality Circle in family medicine teaching were interviewed twice: first, in 2019, about digitalization in family medicine teaching in Tübingen, Germany, not yet aware of the global changes and local transformation that would take place shortly thereafter. Second, in a follow-up interview in 2020 about the transition process and digitalization following the impact of contact restrictions during the pandemic. Grounded Theory was used as a qualitative research approach to analyze the complex processes surrounding this transformation. By analyzing the interviews with various stakeholders of community and university-based teaching, a model for the digital transformation process of family medicine teaching at the University of Tübingen in response to an external stimulus (the pandemic) was developed. It involves six chronological steps: “The calm before the storm,” “The storm hits,” “All hands on deck,” “Adrift,” “Reset course,” and “The silver lining.” This model seeks to understand the process of digital transformation and its impact on the teaching institution (medical faculty of the University of Tübingen, Institute for General Practice and Interprofessional Health Care) and instructors from an integrated perspective and thereby critically revisits prior concepts and opinions on the digitalization of medical teaching. Insights gained are presented as key messages.

PMID:37601797 | PMC:PMC10433760 | DOI:10.3389/fmed.2023.1231383


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