Box 2. Tips for adapting a successful physical placement to a virtual format
Communicate. Involve all program partners and stakeholders from the beginning to ensure participation.
Rehearse. Do a test run with each host beforehand to ensure their internet connection and VC skills can support their participation indoors and outdoors.
Enable as much “heart” and “hands” learning as is possible in a virtual format. Schedule activities that encourage and enable students and hosts to develop authentic, genuine interpersonal relationships.
Recognise the limitations of technology. It is better for students to interact with hosts who have good internet access and videoconference (VC) skills than set the Program up for failure by trying to include locations with poor internet access and hosts who are uncomfortable with VC.
Beware “Zoom fatigue”. Limit VC duration, schedule frequent breaks and a mix of online and face-to-face activities.
Care for students and hosts. Pastoral care and logistical support is as necessary for virtual as for physical placements. Ensure access to IT support. Schedule ‘visits’ by supervising academics and debriefings.
Be brave and creative. Necessity is the mother of invention and a pandemic provides the impetus and freedom for new approaches to old problems to be trialed.
Int J Med Educ. 2021; 12:274-299; doi: 10.5116/ijme.61b3.56ee