Implantation of Distance Learning as Strategy in Medical Internship: Challenges and Perspectives

ABSTRACT The theoretical and practical experience of medical school can be approached using virtual environment learning strategies. In this respect, flexible time and space would appear advantageous for the establishment of the teaching-learning process in the period where there is a predominance of practical activities. The virtual environment can represent a space for sharing experiences and discussions with students in different practical scenarios. This case study aims at evaluating how medical interns perceived learning in two different scenarios using the Moodle virtual environment. The first intervention consisted of discussing clinical cases of patients with infectious and parasitic diseases who had been treated or assessed in primary or secondary health care by other interns. The second intervention involved completing the reflective portfolio, with teacher feedback regarding the activities performed by the interns during their public health internship. In both cases prior expectations, subsequent satisfaction and self-perceived learning were systematically analyzed. As a result, the responses of 36 students were evaluated in the first intervention, and of 30 students in the second, accounting for more than 97% of the students invited. Most of them considered the Moodle environment suitable and reported knowledge/skill gain in both interventions. The main gains pointed to were improved skills for clinical reasoning and reflection on clinical practice in primary care. In the discussion of clinical cases, student involvement increased significantly once they were awarded marks for qualified participation in the activity. In the reflective portfolio, teacher feedback was considered an important motivating factor for the students. However, 51% of their posts received no teacher feedback. In conclusion, the virtual environment was considered useful for student learning during internship, but there remains a need to develop the tutors’ role in this process.