The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for students at higher education institutions across the country, and CU Anschutz School of Medicine’s doctors-to-be are anything but immune. Several students recently joined a team responsible for implementing a new ECHO Colorado virtual series called COVID-19 Just-in-Time ECHO for Primary Care. Held every Monday and Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:00 AM, the series provides up-to-the-minute information on COVID-19-related topics. Nearly 150 primary care providers, nurses and other frontline healthcare providers in Colorado attend each session—supported each day by the research team.
There is currently a waiting list to join this research team, which consists of two faculty members—Drs. Kyle Leggott and Cleveland Piggott—two medical students and four residents. It has four main objectives: facilitating the question and answer portion of each session, creating one-page summaries of each session, collecting data from post-session surveys to inform future topics, and researching topics and presenting the results.
The students are committing their time both as a service to the people of Colorado and as a learning experience. Normally, they would be on clinical rotations, but due to concerns for learner safety, scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), and so much uncertainty, they were pulled from many of their clinical experiences involving direct patient care.
Jessica Hall, a medical student and member of the research team, describes her role as varied and includes helping organize session Q&A, producing summary documents, researching session content and helping analyze survey data. During the early morning sessions, she helps organize the Q&A and take detailed notes of meeting content, and at times, served as the presenter of the daily topic. She then creates a summary document highlighting the main points of the session along with questions and answers for participants to review. Hall has also had the opportunity to contribute to researching session content. When a topic must be addressed quickly, the research team reviews relevant literature and presents pertinent information during an ECHO session. Additionally, the research team analyzes participant survey data weekly to help inform future topics and improve session quality.
When the pandemic hit the US, Hall had just begun studying for her first medical board exam (Step 1 of the USMLE). She was in a dedicated study period between her second and third year of medical school. Closures due to the pandemic extended this period and led to postponement of her third year clinical clerkships.
“I have really enjoyed working with this team. Working with this ECHO series has not only allowed me to stay up-to-date on accurate and relevant information during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has also provided an opportunity to develop new skills, form connections with peers, residents and faculty, and learn from a multidisciplinary team,” said Hall. “The individuals on this team are encouraging, welcoming and a pleasure to work with and learn from. Additionally, this series has highlighted for me the unique struggles and creativity of primary care providers across the state. It has been enlightening hearing from a varied spectrum of community providers and experts to get a multifaceted perspective of the science and social implications of COVID-19.”
Prior to working on this team Hall describes feeling a sense of uselessness. Working as a research team member has provided an avenue for her to contribute during this pandemic while she is unable to directly participate in patient care. “This has been very rewarding,” she said.
COVID-19 Just-in-Time ECHO for Primary Care is generously sponsored by the ZOMA Foundation.
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