Publication date: Jan 21, 2024
Securing access to sufficient and focussed learning experiences is a perennial challenge for medical trainees. This challenge was accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and with physical isolation processes that decreased in-person patient presentations and a shift to telehealth consultations. This situation has prompted the need to optimise the available experiences and educational responses to overcome the limitations in the number, quantum and range of available clinical learning experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with medical practice teams in four rural general practices to understand how medical trainees’ education in rural general practices can be sustained in such circumstances. Key considerations included optimising the available experiences to assist medical trainees to generate the kinds of mental models needed by trainees to conduct medical work, and particularly, when it became even more restricted through remote or physically distanced consultations. It also identified lessons learnt during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns to inform and improve the provision of trainees’ experiences in such practices. Providing experiences for trainees to participate fully in clinical activities is imperative. A sequenced set of experiences was proposed to incrementally prepare trainees to engage in and conduct clinical consultations remotely using digital technologies. Such an approach may not always be easy or possible to enact but offers a pathway of experiences most likely to lead to positive outcomes for the trainees whilst maintaining patient care and safety considerations.