Posted: April 30, 2020

Engaging Students Remotely During Inpatient Rotations: Virtual Clerkship Tip Sheet


In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, we redesigned clinical learning experiences for advanced students (4th year medical students) to virtual rotations, preserving as much of the original rotation experience and ensuring authentic integration in patient care while creating alternative opportunities to engage learners in the clinical environment in a meaningful way. We transitioned to virtual rotations in six inpatient care environments (acute care wards, neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, hematology-oncology and bone marrow transplant units). Students provide care by participating in rounds, presenting patients, paging consultants, placing orders, communicating with patients, their families and allied health staff. Further learning occurs through case-based discussions and lectures delivered through video conferencing by subspecialists as well as by student-led didactics. To maintain connections between remote learners and bedside staff, we created regular opportunities for feedback using web-based platforms. Based on the experiences with these virtual rotations, we created a tip sheet based on three guiding principles: (1) eliminate direct in-person patient contact (2) promote deep learning within pediatric care environments (3) ensure authentic contributions to patient care. 


Mansi Desai, MD, UCSF
Duncan Henry, MD, UCSF
Deb Franzon, MD, UCSF
Sara Buckelew, MD, UCSF
Sandrijn VanSchaik, MD, UCSF


Learner Audience

Undergraduate Medical Education (UME)


Systems Based Practice

Resource Type(s)

Distance Learning - Asynchronous
Distance Learning - Synchronous
Educational Technology

Instructional Method(s)

Clinical Experience - Inpatient
Ward Rounds
Patient Presentation - Learner


Patient Care, Medical Knowledge, Communication Skills, Interpersonal