McGovern students return to in-person learning

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Class of 2025 Orientation - In-person Learning

Members of the McGovern Medical School Class of 2025 return to campus for orientation July 26. (Photo by Dwight Andrews/Office of Communications)

One year ago, McGovern Medical School students and faculty were preparing for one of the most unprecedented years in the school’s history. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical School curriculum moved to a completely online format affecting lectures, exams, clerkships, and more.

With an increase in vaccinations and a better understanding of proper social distancing measures, the 2021-22 school year will return to as close to normal as possible. Students will have the option to return to campus for in-person lectures, while a handful of traditions missing from last year will be welcomed back.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming out students safely back on campus, but we’re keeping some of the lessons learned from the pandemic,” said LaTanya Love, MD, dean of education ad interim. “We are going back to in-person learning, but we have learned that with some things a hybrid model may work even better.”

A major change to the curriculum a year ago was a complete move to online learning and exam taking. In 2021, students will return to the classroom in person, but with the option to remain attending class virtually if they choose.

“Even before the pandemic with classes held in person, students have always had the opportunity to stream them from home,” Love said. “We think that a lot of students who like virtual learning will be glad that this will continue to be an option.”

When the virus began during the 2020 spring semester, third-year medical students experienced a revised schedule which saw a two-month delay to the beginning of their clerkships after ensuring proper safety measures were in place to allow a safe training environment. In 2021, MS3s were able to begin clerkships on schedule.

Student experience will also take a major step in the direction of a return to normal with a return to in-person events and traditions, beginning with the Henry Strobel Retreat. The Retreat is an opportunity for first-year medical students to meet their fellow classmates and faculty in a weekend getaway to Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas.

The 2021 version of the Retreat will feature a treat for second-year medical students who will get their own version of the retreat after missing out on the tradition a year ago.

“We’re excited that we’re able to do a retreat for first- and second-years,” Love said. “We won’t be having all of the things that we historically do, and it will just be a one-day retreat (for each class), but we look forward to hosting this tradition for our students.”

The 2020-21 school year was a testament to the resiliency and dedication for both McGovern Medical School students as well as the faculty. With the everyday operation slowly returning to normal, the curriculum and student-life experience will follow suit in a safe manner.

“Safety is always a very important consideration in everything we do,” Love said. “We will keep up to date with CDC guidelines and the recommendations of our infectious disease specialists. We know that at any time there is a possibility that we may have to pivot if things were to get worse, but we are ready to do that now if we have to.”