Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Education and Research Program Changes – COVID-19

Effective March 23, 2020

The health and safety of faculty, staff and learners is always a top priority.

Western has cancelled classes from Friday, March 13 up-to and including Tuesday, March 17, 2020 to provide instructors and academic support staff adequate time to prepare to deliver course content in alternative ways.

  • Any exams scheduled during this time period will be rescheduled.
  • Starting Wednesday, March 18 and for the remainder of the term, Western will be moving its classes online.
  • Students will not be required to come back to campus to write final exams.
  • Final exams will not take place in-person.
  • Students who want to and are able to go home should not hold off from making necessary arrangements.
  • For students living on campus who wish to stay, residences remain open and fully operational.

The following outlines specific changes made to/or occurring with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry education and research programs

Bachelor of Medical Sciences (BMSc) and Neuroscience Programs

  • Visit Western’s Student Resources Hub to help you navigate all of the opportunities to participate in learning, receive support and connect with the University community at this challenging time while we are dealing with COVID-19 and experiencing remote learning and services.
  • All courses moved online effective March 18, 2020. The term will end as planned on April 3, 2020. All changes to course content and delivery and assessments have been posted to OWL course sites (as of 5:00 p.m. on March 17).
  • Fourth-year research projects will come to a conclusion and arrangements are being made to ensure everything can be completed. Faculty are currently reviewing various approaches for presentations.
  • Exams will not be given on campus but will be offered in various formats (take home exams, reweighting of assignments, cancelling final exams where appropriate). All changes to exams have been approved by the departmental Undergraduate Chairs and the Associate Dean, BMSUE.
  • All students on exchange outside of Canada have been encouraged to return to Canada.
  • All outgoing exchanges have been cancelled until further notice.

Dentistry

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Internationally Trained Dentists (ITD) Programs

  • June 1, 2020 has now been tentatively identified as the earliest date that classes and simulation (pre-clinical) training will resume.
  • July 1, 2020 has now been tentatively identified as the earliest date that clinical training could resume. With this newly established tentative date, our normal summer shut down will take place during the months of May and June.
  • All clinical electives continue to be on hold.
  • General Practice and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery residents will be provided with specific direction from their respective Program Director regarding didactic and clinical learning.
  • For the Graduate Orthodontics program, all course work will progress as scheduled in an online format. Didactic learning is being supplemented with online seminars in areas of foundational knowledge to help in board exam preparation. Clinical education will continue to be replaced with daily online seminars on various clinical topics until clinics are re-opened and hands-on clinical learning can resume.
  • It is expected that virtual learning will continue to be part of the new normal. All universities in Canada and around the world are now making decisions about what the new academic year will bring and beginning to plan and prepare for those realities.
  • Effective March 24, the closure of all Schulich Dentistry clinics has been extended until at least May 4. This includes the Urgent Care Clinic, DSCU, Graduate Orthodontic Clinic, Paediatric Clinic, Hygiene Clinics, Multi-Function Clinic, DOCS program, the Main Adult Clinic and the Simulation Laboratory.
  • Arrangements have been made to provide access to care for dental emergencies at practices in the London community.
  • Card access to the Schulich Dentistry clinics has been deactivated and students will not be able to access these spaces during the closure. Online lectures will continue as planned.
  • Schulich Dentistry is engaging in ongoing discussions with the University and the Middlesex-London Health Unit to evaluate our operations. Communication will continue to be provided as more information becomes available.
  • All lecture-based courses will be moved online where feasible. Students can expect to hear from Dentistry leadership about this.
  • All simulation and lab-based classes, such as impression taking and clinical practice, have been cancelled until April 6. Access to the Simulation Laboratory will be reassessed at that time.
  • All elective placements have been cancelled (Moose Factory and Sioux Lookout).
  • The Dental Community Outreach Service (DOCS) clinics taking place in April have been cancelled.
  • All Dental Clinics (DSCU, main adult clinic, paediatric, hygiene, graduate orthodontic and multi-function) have been closed with the exception of the Urgent Care Clinic, which is now being staffed by faculty only. Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Urgent Care Clinic will be closed. Arrangements have been made to provide access to care for dental emergencies at practices in the London community.
  • Every effort and opportunity is being identified to ensure fourth-year students will complete all their requirements prior to graduation. Dentistry leadership will be reaching out to students individually about this.
  • Card access to the Dental Clinics and Simulation Laboratory has been deactivated and students will not be able to access these spaces during the closure.
  • Students are advised not to make travel plans to return to campus at this time.
  • Planning for final exams is currently underway and details will be provided as soon as possible.

Postgraduate Dentistry Programs (Graduate Orthodontics and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery)

  • The Graduate Orthodontics Clinic has been closed. While Graduate Orthodontics learners don’t take their exams until June, the National Dentistry Examining Board of Canada has stated that they will accommodate COVID-19 related licensing delays for students if necessary.
  • The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program is unaffected as it operates in the hospital.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs

  • Visit Western’s Student Resources Hub to help you navigate all of the opportunities to participate in learning, receive support and connect with the University community at this challenging time while we are dealing with COVID-19 and experiencing remote learning and services.
  • Western’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is providing regular updates.
  • SGPS released a document: What Does Tuition Pay For Summer Term 2020?
  • Class for all non-thesis based graduate programs have moved online.
  • Graduate and postdoctoral research continues.
  • Thesis exams that were scheduled will go ahead and be done virtually where possible.

Medicine

Doctor of Medicine (MD) Program

  • The AFMC released a plan, process and timeline for the 2021 residency match.
  • On April 15, the AFMC released the following statement nationally.
  • Visiting electives are suspended until September 26, 2020. Currently, students are unable to submit applications on the AFMC Student Portal. No decision has been made on when the portal will re-open.
  • It will re-open 16 weeks before visiting electives are offered by the faculties.
    We understand the concern these disruptions may cause, and we ask that students regularly check the AFMC Student Portal for updates as they become available.
  • On April 16, COFM shared this message with all medical students in Ontario.
  • It outlines the criteria that will allow Ontario schools to determine when circumstances have resolved sufficiently to allow for re-engagement in clinical rotations. These criteria have been developed from core principles: Patient Safety, Student Safety, Safety of Teaching Faculty and Health Providers, Learning Opportunities and Supervision.
  • Summer research in the region supported through Distributed Education/summer electives, Indigenous MedLINCs, and Discovery Healthcare Camps may be cancelled pending further information from local health authorities. It is understandable that community partners, faculty or students may wish to voluntarily withdraw their commitment at this time given the ongoing situation. Please contact the Distributed Education Office if you wish to withdraw your commitment.
  • On Friday, March 20, the AFMC shared that all 17 Deans have unanimously agreed to stop receiving new applications for visiting electives through the Student Portal due to the uncertainty of elective capacity at all the universities and the cost to students for applications.
  • Effective March 23, 2020, courses will use online learning to facilitate large and small group learning.
  • Large group learning will use pre-recorded lectures, facilitated using online discussion boards.
  • Small group learning will use Zoom for faculty facilitated sessions and other sessions will be student-led resulting in a group submission that will be assessed.
  • Anatomy learning will use online virtual anatomy resources and pre-recorded lectures.
  • Completion of project-based learning (i.e. Research and QI) will continue online.
  • Patient Centred Clinical Methods will be adapted by implementing the following: deferral of specific topics into the next academic year; and creation of new cases to use in small group sessions.
  • Assessments will be completed online.
  • All clinical learning for course and non-credit learning for Year 1, 2 and 4 has been cancelled until further notice.
  • Clerkship is being paused for three weeks beginning March 14, 2020 until April 6, 2020. This decision may be reassessed depending on the status of the pandemic. The national UME decanal committee continues to work collaboratively on a national process that addresses clerkship and electives.
  • All Canadian medical student clinical electives have been cancelled indefinitely.
  • Discovery Week for May/June 2020 will be cancelled. Even when COVID-19 safety restrictions are lifted, the aftermath period will be a time of recovery and recuperation and will pose a challenge for our communities.
  • We remain committed to ensuring students have ample opportunities to experience what kind of rich experiences are available in our regional communities. Once experiential learning opportunities are permitted again, we will be able to plan other opportunities for those students who remain interested.

Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) Program

Physician Assistant (PA) Program

  • PA clinical placements will be paused until April 6, 2020. Placements beginning April 6 and later will be reassessed, and any changes will be communicated as soon as possible.

Research

  • Visit the Research Resources webpage for communication from Western Research, FAQs and information from granting agencies.
  • Western Research is providing regular updates regarding processes and maintenance of lab duties. This information is posted online. An update was provided today regarding suggested actions for currently approved research involving humans.
  • Work is underway with partners across campus to develop contingency plans to address unique challenges that could affect research should the University shutdown. Every step will be taken to preserve ongoing studies wherever it is safe and possible to do so. Research is continuing unless it poses a public health risk.
  • Researchers are, however, encouraged not to start or submit any new research protocols involving human participants or animal research at this time.
  • Researchers should assess the needs for ongoing projects.
  • Mission critical is animal care, management of equipment and preservation of samples. ACVS is working hard to ensure the continuity of research programs.
  • Consideration should be given, as appropriate, to alternate ways of conducting research (e.g., using telephone/Zoom instead of in-person interviews) so long as doing so does not affect the project’s scientific merit or integrity.