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An Interdisciplinary, Multi-Institution Telehealth Course for Third-Year Medical Students

Jonas, Christopher E., DO; Durning, Steven J., MD, PhD; Zebrowski, Catherine, PhD, MPH; Cimino, Francesca, MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002701
Innovation Reports

Problem The American Medical Association has called for telehealth to become a core competency of medical students. Studies indicate that a principal reason physicians do not practice telehealth is lack of training, yet patient interest in and satisfaction with telehealth are high. No comprehensive U.S. undergraduate medical education curriculum teaching telehealth principles has been published.

Approach In February 2018, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) provided an innovative telehealth training experience for third-year medical students. USU led an interinstitutional, interprofessional learner-centered course including six segments: (1) multiple-choice pretest; (2) asynchronous lectures covering telehealth history, applications, ethics, safety, military uses, etiquette, and patient considerations; (3) in-person interactive telehealth instruction including patient selection, current uses, and risk management; (4) faculty-supervised mock patient telehealth encounters; (5) hands-on diagnosis and advanced surgical procedures using telehealth equipment; and (6) multiple-choice posttest.

Outcomes This course was piloted with 149 third-year medical students. Students’ improvement in telehealth knowledge was demonstrated through (1) 10.1% average improvement between pre- and posttest scores, (2) completion of competency-based checklists, and (3) postcourse preceptor and student feedback. Faculty feedback indicated that technology use was novel and effective based on student input. Faculty noted that students enjoyed engaging via videoconference. Of participating medical students, 119 (80%) indicated future plans to practice telehealth; several requested to be part of future telehealth courses.

Next Steps Telehealth will be integrated into clinical rotations in collaboration with other institutions. As the telehealth curriculum is taught at other institutions, lessons learned will inform enhancements at USU.

C.E. Jonas is associate professor of family medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

S.J. Durning is professor of medicine and pathology and director, Graduate Programs in Health Professions Education, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

C. Zebrowski is senior analyst for telehealth and metrics and analysis, Connected Health, Defense Health Agency, Silver Spring, Maryland.

F. Cimino is assistant professor of family medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The Uniformed Services University Institutional Review Board (IRB)/Human Research Protections Office reviewed this course (protocol HPE-001) and determined on November 14, 2018 that, as defined by 32 CFR 219.102 and applicable Department of Defense policy guidance, it does not meet criteria for human subjects research and does not require IRB review.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Navy, Connected Health, Defense Health Agency, Department of Defense, or any other federal agencies.

Previous presentations: This material has been presented locally at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences campus Education Day activities.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to Christopher Jonas, Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd., Room A1038A, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone: (301) 295-3630; e-mail:

Written work prepared by employees of the Federal Government as part of their official duties is, under the U.S. Copyright Act, a “work of the United States Government” for which copyright protection under Title 17 of the United States Code is not available. As such, copyright does not extend to the contributions of employees of the Federal Government.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges