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Medical college adapts curriculum during pandemic


Story By Meghan Mamlock
Local News Published 01/18/2021 5:59PM, Last Updated 01/19/2021 6:09PM
Wausau - Colleges across the country have been forced to make changes, to deal with COVID-19. 
 
But for students becoming medical professionals they've had even more hurdles to overcome as the pandemic has stalled clinical practice, and person to person interactions.

The Medical College of Wisconsin's Central Wisconsin campus in Wausau has a specific focus on rural community healthcare and they've made a number of changes to deal with the pandemic.

Lisa Dodson, Sentury and Founding Campus Dean at Medical College of Wisconsin, Central Wisconsin Campus said simulations and online lectures have practically removed the need for a classroom. 

"We now have acquired much more robust simulation equipment that allows us to engage students in learning about various things without having to have other people in the room," said Dodson.

But the clinical learning that is needed for in field experience was abruptly halted last spring for a couple months with faculty trying to figure out how to proceed.

"Students should be taken out of clinical work until such time as we can get adequate," said Dodson. "Personal Protective Equipment for them and make sure that we are protecting patients and learners."

Physicians in the community scholarly pathway require the students to take on a project over their medical school experience to work on a healthcare problem with the community. Helping them better connect and build relationships in the Northwoods and Central Wisconsin.

"We want our students to be part of the healthcare problem solving that goes on in communities all over the Northwoods," said Dodson. "Our students are engaged in community projects around homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment and all kinds of the social determinants of health."

Medical education will continue, despite the changes. And school officials say the problem-solving created by the pandemic will only help students, once they're working on their own. 
 
"We've learned some things that I think have streamlined medical education, have learned where we can do distance learning effectively, disrupt people's lives less, and that we have to have students in front of real live people," said Dodson. "We're going to continue to do that because it makes for a quality physician."

The school takes in over one-thousand applications from all of the country but only accepts about 20 applicants a year.
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