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Training “Pivots” from the Pandemic: Lessons Learned Transitioning from In-Person to Virtual Synchronous Training in the Clinical Scholars Leadership Program

Authors Fernandez CSP, Green MA, Noble CC, Brandert K, Donnald K, Walker MR, Henry E, Rosenberg A, Dave G, Corbie-Smith G

Received 19 September 2020

Accepted for publication 14 December 2020

Published 17 February 2021 Volume 2021:13 Pages 63—75


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Russell Taichman

Claudia SP Fernandez,1 Melissa A Green,2 Cheryl C Noble,3 Kathleen Brandert,4 Katherine Donnald,5 Madison R Walker,1 Ellison Henry,1 Angela Rosenberg,5 Gaurav Dave,2 Giselle Corbie-Smith2

1Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 2Center for Health Equity Research, UNC School of Medicine Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 3Private Evaluation Consultancy, Scotts Valley, CA, USA; 4Office of Public Health Practice and Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA; 5Inside Out Enneagram Consulting, Pittsboro, NC, USA

Correspondence: Claudia SP Fernandez
Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 426 Rosenau Hall, 134 Dauer Drive, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA
Tel +1 919-843-5560
Fax +1-919-966-0458

Introduction: Since the inception of distance-based teaching modalities, a debate has ensued over the quality of online versus in-person instruction. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of teaching environments—including leadership development trainings for post-graduate learners—have been thrust into exploring the virtual learning environment more thoroughly. One three-year leadership development program for interdisciplinary healthcare professionals transitioned three simultaneous leadership intensives from in-person to online in the spring of 2020.
Methods: Documented changes in overall training length, session length, and session format are described. Further, evaluative data were collected from participants at both retreats via post-session surveys. Ninety-three participants attended the 2019 retreat, and 92 participants attended the 2020 virtual retreat. Quantitative data of three rating questions per session are reported: 1) overall session satisfaction, 2) participants’ reported knowledge gain, and 3) participants’ reported ability gain. Qualitative data were obtained via two open-ended feedback questions per session.
Results: In comparing pre/post scores for knowledge and ability, participants had meaningful (and in some cases higher) self-reported gains in knowledge and ability measures in the online environment, as compared to the in-person environment. Participants reported statistically significant gains in all sessions for both knowledge and ability. Qualitative data of participant feedback identified a number of positive themes similar across the in-person and virtual settings. Negative or constructive feedback of the virtual setting included time constraint issues (eg too much content in one session, a desire for more sessions overall), technical difficulties, and the loss of social connection and networking with fellow participants as compared to in-person trainings.
Discussion: While meaningful shifts in knowledge and ability ratings indicate that the transition to successful online learning is possible, several disadvantages remain. The preparation time for both faculty and participants was considerable, there is a need to reduce overall content in each session due to time restraints, and participants indicated feeling the loss of one-on-one connections with their peers in the training. Lessons learned of transitioning leadership training from in-person to an online experience are highlighted.

Keywords: leadership, training, virtual, clinical scholars, pandemic, workforce development

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