The implementation of virtual learning has been successful due to the adaptability of the College's first-year medical students.
The inaugural class of PCOM South Georgia will finish their first year of medical school virtually. Kenneth J. Veit, DO ’76, provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean announced that all PCOM locations will deliver classes and labs virtually until further notice.
“The College has confirmed that this will officially affect the duration of the current academic spring term,” Dr. Veit said in an email to the campus community. “The implementation of this online environment has been very successful in large part due to the resiliency and adaptability of you, our students. It is a bit different, but positive academic achievements, goals and objectives are being obtained across the board.”
The email continued, “The College will continue to use as many resources as required to maintain high quality instruction and to keep your academic programs on track, leading to the timely realization of your degree and professional goals.”
Matthew Powell (DO ‘23), a student at PCOM South Georgia and class chair, feels that remaining online through the term is necessary.
“From a person going through this pandemic just like everyone else, I think it is wise to continue with online education for a few reasons,” he said. “It keeps me and my wife safe from any potential encounter with COVID-19, and we don’t have to make another transition within this term. The transition from in-person to online lectures wasn’t easy or fun. Though I miss my classmates, the faculty and our beautiful campus, I would hate to have to change my approach mid-stream again,” he said.
Students and faculty alike have expressed their longing to return to campus and interact with their community, but most have adjusted well to the change. Sadie Daugereaux (DO ‘23), first-year medical student at PCOM South Georgia, says that with time, she has become used to online classes.
“Medical school is pretty much all about routine and getting a schedule down, so I believe it takes everyone time to figure out what works best for them,” she said. “PCOM was already doing a great job of keeping up with virtual learning advances which has certainly made this transition easier. The faculty could not be better about keeping in close communication with us. Most are checking their emails about every 30 minutes during the week and then multiple times over the weekend, so it is very easy to have your questions answered.”
Jennifer Shaw, PhD, associate professor of physiology, makes her availability to students a top priority. Dr. Shaw, along with the other faculty members, keeps an open line of communication with students. Teaching through live lectures, chatting with students via educational software, and having virtual office hours all allow her to connect with the soon-to-be second-year medical students.
“We’re all deprived of social interaction,” she said. “We’re doing what we can to recreate the classroom environment. You don’t realize how important those pockets of time are between classes when students can easily talk with professors and each other about content or just life. We chat a lot in between classes, and all of the faculty miss that. So, right before starting our live online lecture I ask them to tell me something fun that is not directly related to class to foster a small sense of human interaction.”
Although online teaching and learning have been a major change for faculty and students, Dr. Shaw says students are performing well. She and Daugereaux say that students are doing their best to maintain study groups and interact with one another.
“The students are still getting the lecture-based content that they need,” Dr. Shaw said. “We provide review exercises and practice questions. I want them to study as if they’re on campus and promote conceptual thinking.”
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia, which offers a full four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. In addition, a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences will be offered beginning in August 2020. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students on August 12, 2019, has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.
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