An insight into the benefits of virtual learning from the perspective of a medical student on the cusp of residency as the early stages of the pandemic played out was delivered during the most recent Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) virtual Town Hall (Feb. 3).
Tony Nguyen, DO, now a vascular surgery resident at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told those tuned in how he recognized his status as a student was beneficial almost immediately.
“I was a fourth-year medical student during the first round of COVID-19 and part of the first cohort to go through the audition rotation virtually,” he said.
“You have multiple face-to-face sessions with faculty where they teach you vascular surgery, and you have their (mostly) undivided attention as you present on a topic. You can do multiple of these virtual audition interviews with really no cost to the applicant.”
Nguyen pointed to the absence of travel and housing expenses that meant effectively “free face-to-face time with faculty, program directors and chiefs of division” as he navigated the uncharted waters of launching a career in the thick of a pandemic.
He said downsides included less time with residents and the inability to fully project personalities, as well as an absence of clinical, hands-on experience. But, he countered, “it seems like a good trade-off as a medical student to get all of this opportunity while not having to wake up at 4:30 a.m,” before adding that the cost burden had landed on the side of institutions and that might be why many had since “fallen off.”