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Why face-to-face medical education will prevail despite the world’s swift acclimatisation to virtual learning
  1. Tanya Rebekah Enoch1,
  2. Rebecca Charlene Williams2
  1. 1School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Department of Educational Assessment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca Charlene Williams, Department of Educational Assessment, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 2JD, UK; rebecca.williams2{at}

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COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on education systems throughout the world, engendering a disruption that is particularly pronounced in the training of medical students and junior doctors. Anatomy dissections, face-to-face small group sessions and clinical examinations have inevitably been disrupted, while didactic lectures have either been cancelled or moved online. The clinical placements and electives of numerous final year medical students have been cancelled, which will result in Foundation Year 1 Doctors who have less clinical exposure compared with previous cohorts. In May 2020, approximately 5500 UK medical students graduated early in order to work in primary care,1 which allowed more experienced doctors to be redeployed to hospitals. We concur with Ding’s2 assertion that this offered final year medical students educational insights that the conventional medical school curriculum could not have provided, better preparing them to enter Foundation Training.

Prior to the pandemic, certain aspects of medical education were offered through the non-traditional teaching forms of online and electronic learning. However, it is crucial to mention that these methods were not used to replace face-to-face learning but, rather, to support it. Indeed, these additional resources can grant students easier access to a wider variety and greater quantity of information. The benefits of online tools were reaped during COVID-19. The pandemic prompted lectures to be moved online swiftly to allow students to continue their studies remotely. Since 19.6% of Britain’s student population is international,3 individuals were able to return home and still engage with academic material and content. Students within Britain could also leave student accommodation and continue to study remotely. That …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed to the conception of the work and to the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data. TRE drafted the work, and RCW revised it critically for important intellectual content. Both authors have provided final approval for the work to be published. Both authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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