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The Value of Small Group Distance Learning In the Context of COVID-19

Speaker: Steven Haimowitz, MD, President, RealCME 

Most health professional educators have faced the challenge of generating learner engagement for educational programs, either for the attendance of a live session, or participation in a distance learning activity. This challenge is intensified when the educational program requires a more extensive time commitment. We have all seen the reports with statistics on burnout levels among clinicians, compounded by the loss of autonomy, the increased workday, the extensive daily screen time, and feeling disconnected from their colleagues. Of course, all of these factors have a significant influence on participation in educational programs. 

This session focuses on the experience of the Jefferson Health and Hackensack Meridian Health Systems in implementing a digital, small group, social learning educational model to generate engagement in an extensive Opioid Analgesic REMS-compliant accredited training curriculum. In this model, qualified faculty members from across the health systems invited groups of colleagues to engage with an established curriculum that immersed learners in a personalized educational experience that prioritized learner-to-learner and learner-to-group interactions. Hybrid or blended learning included asynchronous foundational materials, group leader-led live group web discussions focused on addressing areas of greatest concern, with peer-to-peer exchanges encouraged in a group collaborative task. Although this program was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic, providing clinicians with channels for inter-disciplinary connections, peer support, and empathy is now a top priority for educators. This model, driven by the professional connections of faculty leaders, may serve as an important and innovative approach as we greatly expand the role of distance learning.


The Value of Small Group Distance Learning In the Context of COVID-19
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