Distance learning for September 2020 semester
After careful consideration, UMHS has decided to continue its distance learning program for the September 2020 semester. All students who are set to begin in the Accelerated Review Program (ARP), Basic Sciences First Semester, and Extended Basic Sciences First Semester in St. Kitts will have their classes online for the Fall 2020 term.
The COVID-19 pandemic has eased in some locations, while it is steadily getting worse in others. With a clear need to put safety first, we are closely following the guidelines set forth from the CDC, the US federal government, individual states, and the government of St Kitts. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will transition from distance learning back to the delivery of our campus-based program.
Below is an update on the various developments which have occurred across UMHS as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a very short period of time, due to the pandemic, we have switched from a physical based lecture system to an interactive, online, remote learning system. This has been extended and includes remote assessment and examinations. We are also in the process of developing methodologies for delivering the teaching of anatomy, physical diagnosis, and ICM I.
In a similar fashion, the process in Maine has also undergone significant change. The Kaplan review has been brought forward, and commenced this week before, rather than after, ICM 2. The online remote delivery also includes the examinations.
It is no surprise that the biggest challenges are in the clinical program which involves direct contact and learning with patients. As it stands, despite the possible “flattening of the curve” of the numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in particular locations, the pandemic continues, and at present, it is not possible to resume full clinical rotations with patient contact.
There have been a number of inquiries, and we can confirm that there will be no in hospital or outpatient clinical core and elective rotations commencing next week nor, in the immediate future. It is not clear at the moment when there can be a resumption, however we will keep you informed of any developments.
Given the current circumstances and mindful of the constraints, we have been working hard to develop alternative learning opportunities to continue your education; some of these have already begun, others are almost ready, and some are still in development.
Approximately 50 students have already taken up this opportunity and there has been some really high quality work with excellent outputs. The program has been overseen and managed directly by the Clinical Dean, Dr. George Shade. A retrospective meta-analysis is completed on the student’s topic of choice with approval by the Dr. Shade. This option may be completed on an individual basis or with a group of up to four students.
This virtual elective is managed from Weiss Memorial Hospital and delivered by Dr. Avnit Kapur. The goal of this elective is to introduce students to diagnostic imaging in the work-up of common clinical complaints that most primary care providers will encounter. At the end of the rotation, students will be able to discuss the benefits and limitations of imaging modalities with their patients, select the most appropriate imaging test, decide if intravenous or oral contrast is necessary, and review the pertinent findings with their patients. Key concepts will be discussed in a case-based approach maximizing clinical relevance.
Foundations in Internal Medicine I and II Electives
Two related but separate electives each of six weeks’ duration.
These exciting new electives in Internal Medicine have been developed by one of our lead educators, Dr. Eric Mizuno. These electives consist of a series of didactic, interactive, remote, online, lectures which have been developed to assist students in their learning in Internal Medicine during this particular time.
The program of teaching modules has been designed to optimize, based on clinical knowledge and experience, and also, an intimate understanding of learning theory, the most efficient and comprehensive approach to ensuring students have not just the knowledge, but a true underlying understanding of clinical medicine. The lecture series has proven efficacy in significantly improving both NBME and USMLE test performance.
At present, both of these modules can be used as an Elective clinical rotation, and we are considering whether they may, in the future, be used as part of the core lecture curriculum as a component of a Core rotation. At present, the program is for elective credit only.
The Chair of Psychiatry, Dr Chuck Herrick is exploring the development of an online lecture series based on the didactic program which supports a core Psychiatry Clerkship run out of Cincinnati
Further communication and details will be sent to students once we can officially offer these rotations. There are also many other opportunities under consideration in this rapidly developing situation. These include Kaplan’s iHuman Patient and the development of UMHS’s own AccessMedicine program on the LMS
We have been in contact with the National Board of Medical Examiners to discuss on line opportunities for the CCSE and Clinical Shelf Examinations. This week we had 3 students sit for the CCSE and all submitted very positive reviews. As a result, we are pleased to announce that starting next week we will be offering the CCSE and Clinical Shelf Examinations on line. You will be receiving further details later today on scheduling these examinations.
While we recognize, this is not the return to your full medical education, and the clinical program you would wish for; however, given the circumstances, we hope you recognize it is good quality education which will support learning in clinical medicine during these difficult times.
We continue to watch very carefully how the situation develops, and we continue to monitor all guidance. Like you, we look forward to the resumption of clinical medical education, however we must all remain safe, and realistic in our expectations.
George Shade, Dean of Clinical Science, UMHS
David Graham, Provost, UMHS.
Warren Ross, President, UMHS
Listed below is a portion of the AAMC’s most recent recommendations. Currently, our clinical program is guided by Section I, and as a result we will continue the suspension of all core and elective rotations. We will continue to follow the guidance provided by the AAMC and CDC to determine when it is appropriate to resume rotations. The university will provide regular updates as we continue to monitor and assess the situation. We are exploring a number of alternatives including non-patient electives, research, telemedicine, and the possibility of developing a didactic clinical program to prepare students for the CCSE and USMLE Step 2. We are optimistic that a number of these alternatives will become available. In addition, we have had conversations with the NBME last week and are exploring the possibility of offering the CCSE on line in the immediate future. We are currently testing this possibility and will be able to provide further updates next week.
AAMC Guidance (See full article)
The impact of COVID-19 continues to vary widely among AAMC-member medical schools depending on location. Four weeks ago (March 17, 2020), the AAMC released guidance strongly suggesting that medical students not be involved in direct patient contact activities. Over the past four weeks, substantial progress has been made in (a) efforts to “flatten the curve” through adherence to public health guidelines, (b) availability of PPE, and (c) COVID-19 testing availability. Globally, knowledge about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, advances daily. Steady progress continues in the development of therapeutic approaches to and testing for COVID-19. The response of our medical students to this unprecedented disruption has been remarkable. Their resilience, creativity in finding innovative ways to be of service, and willingness to do so — amid many uncertainties about what lies ahead personally and professionally — are inspiring. We also recognize those student services professionals who are working with and counseling medical students during this stressful time, and our medical educators, whose extensive collaborative efforts have led to the rapid development and implementation of new methods for curriculum content delivery and assessment.
In this environment, AAMC guidance for medical schools regarding medical students’ participation in direct patient contact activities continues to be based on public health considerations, PPE needs, and COVID-19 testing availability. This guidance includes two sections:
We fully recognize that this remains a particularly difficult time for our students, and indeed, the entire population. We will continue to review guidance from the authorities in government, health and medical education, and we will endeavor to keep you informed of developments. If you have specific queries, the New York Office remains open remotely, and you can continue to contact the relevant person by email.
Please remember that the health and safety of yourselves, faculty, colleagues and patients is of prime importance.
Message from the President
In our last email to the UMHS Community we indicated that we would be closing the campus for a week and then re-assess the current situation. In lieu of the government’s decision this weekend to close all non-essential businesses for 14 days including schools, we have decided to extend our closure for a total of 14 days. The situation in St. Kitts remains very fluid and we are closely monitoring the government’s plan which is consistent with measures currently taken by many States in the United States. We commend them on the action they have taken and believe that this is the only way to mitigate and contain the virus. Despite this development, there will be no disruptions to the University’s distance learning program and published remote examination schedule.
Please know that in these difficult times we are here for you and will continue to provide the counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and advisement that you need to excel academically. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together. My prayer for all the UMHS community and extended family is that you stay safe and healthy.
Message from the Registrar
Below, please find an announcement from the NBME regarding USMLE extended eligibility periods. The UMHS Office of the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org) will update Preclinical and Clinical students as further information becomes available.
NBME Updates (for medical school and student services)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Prometric Closures - USMLE Update
Prometric announced on March 17 that test centers in the United States and Canada will be closed for a period of 30 days, starting March 18.
In response, the USMLE program is extending eligibility periods this week, beginning with those that expire in March. All eligibility periods for examinees who currently have a scheduling period with an unexpired eligibility period ending in 2020 will be extended to have an end date of December 2020, regardless of the country in which they are testing.
Extensions will be processed in order of expiration date, with all extension processing expected to be completed by the week of April 13. Examinees will receive a notification and new scheduling permit when their eligibility extension has been processed. Examinees will need to use the new permit once received.
Extending the eligibility period will not impact already scheduled appointments. No fees will be charged for these eligibility extensions. Eligibility periods will be extended automatically, requiring no action from examinees.
If your students have questions, we again kindly ask them to wait for our next announcement before contacting their registration entity. This will allow us more time to plan a solution for all examinees impacted by the closures. Please continue to check the USMLE website and our social media for updates.
If your students are scheduled to take a USMLE examination in a region outside the United States and Canada, please have them check the Prometric website for the most current list of test center closures before going to the test center on their scheduled test day.
Message from the President
Due to the current pandemic situation, we have an opportunity to introduce some important new developments for students starting the fifth semester in Portland, Maine in May 2020.
The recent introduction of remote, online learning together with remote examination processes to our basic science and Portland students provides opportunity for innovation. As a result, we have changed the order of courses for the Portland semester to allow students to focus on USMLE Step 1 with the goal of improving their performance.
The Kaplan Live Online Review Program will take place before ICM, instead of after it, starting in May, 2020.
Currently our students in Maine are enjoying Kaplan Live Online and have been very happy with the quality of the program. Since this will be an online course which also includes online testing, students will not be required to come to Maine in May. Once students complete this course and pass the Post Kaplan Qualifier Exam, they will qualify to sit for USMLE Step 1.
Students will still be required to take the Kaplan Diagnostic Exam at the beginning of the Course. Maine administration will use the diagnostic exam and be available for advice and assistance with student study plans for USMLE Step 1.
For the Spring 2020 cohort, the USMLE Step 1 will be a pre-requisite for ICM 2. There will not be an ICM 2 course offered over the summer. Because students may not have taken and passed Step 1 by September, we will be offering two sessions of ICM 2 in the Fall; one starting in September and the other in the beginning of November. At this stage, it is planned that the ICM 2 will be a live on-site course at the Maine Campus.
This new development provides several advantages for our students. There will be a continuous learning process from the Basic Science Program to the Kaplan Review Program, allowing for progressively intensive preparation for the USMLE Step 1. This is the primary goal of this particular stage of your training. Overall, we believe that this new approach will enhance learning and provide additional opportunity for success on Step 1.
In order to accommodate those who pass Step 1 after the September start date, students will be permitted to enroll in the next available ICM 2 course which will be either in November or January 2021. In the Fall of 2020, both sessions will be 8 weeks in duration, which gives us an opportunity to offer two sessions. Starting in September we will incorporate Kaplan’s I Human Patient into the course which is a substantial enhancement.
Students starting the 5th semester in September 2020 will have an 8-week ICM 2 course followed by a 6-week Kaplan Live online course.
Starting in January 2021 we will resume our standard curriculum with a 10-week ICM 2 course followed by a 6-week Kaplan program in Maine.
The above description lays out the important principles of the proposed developments; the timeline is laid out in more detail below.
Given the current circumstances, we feel that this approach is the preferred way forward to continue learning and provide quality medical education in these exceptional circumstances.
No doubt there will be a number of questions relating to the above proposal, and below, is a series of emails where further information can be obtained.
We wish you well in the next stage of your training.
Dr. Patrice Thibodeau, Director of the Maine Campus, UMHS
Dr. David Graham, Provost, UMHS
Warren Ross, President, UMHS
Helpful Email Contacts
An important message for all UMHS clinical students
We have been monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic very closely, regularly reviewing the advice from the CDC and other agencies, as well as examining the scientific evidence which is being accumulated. We have also been in contact with the hospitals which deliver our clinical placements.
With regards to the Clinical Program, we have been made aware that in many situations, the delivery of healthcare in hospitals across the US is under considerable pressure and hospitals have already advised that they are unable to sustain clinical placements and continue to deliver quality education to students, given the current situation.
The rationale for such decisions relate to patient safety and the safety of students, staff and faculty. The provision of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) is also an important consideration in many instances.
For all of the above reasons, while we would wish to continue with medical education, we have taken the decision that all clinical rotations and clinical contact should be suspended for a period of 30 days, after which time the decision will be reviewed.
There are a small number of students whose rotations are almost complete, and in specific instances, if it is safe to do so, those rotations may be completed. However, this would be exceptional, and could only occur if it were safe and specifically approved by the Dean of Clinical Sciences and the hospital site concerned. There will be no new assignments to rotations at this stage.
During this period, when rotations are paused or suspended, please continue your personal studies and if there are some specific areas of study or development, for example, a research project or audit, which could be carried out without patient contact, we would be pleased to hear from you and consider approving that proposal. US medical schools are exploring the possibility of developing online clinical alternatives which we are monitoring closely. We will be providing further updates on this possibility in the near future.
If you have specific questions, please get in touch with:
Students can also make use of the Student Portal.
Please take every precaution to remain safe individually and collectively, follow CDC advice, act in a professional manner and help others where possible.
We wish you well at a very difficult time.
Mr Warren Ross, President, UMHS
Dr George Shade, Dean of Clinical Studies, UMHS
Dr David Graham, Provost, UMHS
Update for students in clinical rotationsUMHS is currently following the protocol set by each hospital while being mindful of the guidelines set by the CDC, WHO, and various other organizations handling the situations surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). If a hospital site is still accepting students, we expect the student will attend that rotation as scheduled. This policy may be subject to change at any time as we continue to follow the current state of events around the country. We also do not want to force students to stay in their rotation if they do not feel that is a viable option for themselves. In this case, please contact Brandy Admendares, Assistant Director of Clinical Placement, as soon as possible.
Message from the President
Recent reports from the CDC indicate that we will see a significant spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the next 30 days. To reduce the spike, state, local, and the federal government are taking drastic action which will have significant impact on all of us. We believe that UMHS should take similar action to protect our students as well as the UMHS community. As a result, we have decided that the university will continue with our distance learning format for the May semester and students will not be required to return to St. Kitts. We will continue to monitor this situation and will be providing periodic updates. Please stay safe and healthy. I have listed below the most current recommendations from the CDC.
Message from the President
We have been working around the clock to find a solution to our examination issue so that students wouldn’t have to return to St. Kitts for block examinations and finals. This solution eliminates the need for unnecessary travel, further protects our students and community from the risk of obtaining and or spreading the virus, and ensures continuity of your education.
Yesterday we finalized our agreement with ExamMonitor to offer an online solution which will be fully implemented for ARP and all courses in the Basic Science Program. ExamMonitor is the AI-driven remote proctoring solution that continuously observes exam takers with video and audio monitoring throughout the entire exam. This eliminates the need for in-person proctoring and provides absolute confidence in the integrity of all your exams.
With regards to shelf examinations we are in direct contact with NBME to determine if they have a solution. We expect to have a response from them by the end of the week. It is my understanding that the NBME currently utilize Prometric sites to offer a variety of examinations including the Basic Science Comprehensive, Clinical Comprehensive, Clinical Shelf Examinations, and USMLE Step 1 and 2. Yesterday we received notice that these sites may be closed until the middle of April due to the virus. We expect a response from them on Friday with regards to offering the NBME Custom Assessment and Shelf Examinations. If they do not have a viable option, we will be offering our own final examinations this semester utilizing ExamMonitor.
I have copied below a notice from NBME:
"Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Prometric Closures
Prometric announced today that test centers in the United States and Canada will be closed for a period of 30 days, starting March 18.
The USMLE program is working on a plan to extend the eligibility periods of all examinees impacted. More information will be posted as it is available. If your students have questions, we kindly ask them to wait for our next announcement before contacting their registration entity. This will allow us more time to plan a solution for all examinees impacted by the closures. Please continue to check the USMLE website and our social media for updates.
If your examinees are scheduled to take a USMLE examination in a region outside the United States and Canada, please have them check the Prometric website for the most current list of test center closures before going to the test center on their scheduled test day.
Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding during this challenging time."
Message from the President
On Saturday March 14th, I announced new campus actions designed to help limit coronavirus (COVID-19) risk on campus. There are no confirmed cases on our campus or on Island at this time; however, as local, national, and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, the campus is proactively taking steps that will help to protect our students, staff, and faculty.
These changes will take affect starting today, Monday March 16th and will continue until such time as it is safe to resume classes on St. Kitts.
We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice will have broad impacts and will be challenging and disruptive for many of you, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. We are grateful to the staff throughout our campus for their tremendous efforts on our behalf during these challenging times especially the faculty and IT staff who are working at break neck speed to roll out our new distance learning platform. I have attached a fact sheet on COVID-19. I would highly recommend that you monitor the CDC website for the most current and up to date information on the virus. I wishing you all good health during this trying time.