AMSS Position Statement: Impact of COVID-19 on the Adelaide Medical Program

The AMSS has created a position statement to clarify our advocacy goals in relation to the educational disruption caused by COVID-19. This document is useful if you are interested in or unsure of what the AMSS is advocating for. We strongly encourage you to read this document as it will form the basis of our advocacy moving forward.

You can find the position statement here.

Advocacy Update (April 2)

This is an update on AMSS advocacy in relation to COVID-19. Please be aware that details change rapidly and we encourage you to check the most recent communications by staff.

We have met with the Dean, Program Coordinator and Year 1-3 Coordinator a number of times since the last update. We have also had a meeting of the Medical Students' Committee (a committee with key staff and EdReps). We are continuing to raise student concerns and questions, many of which are presently unresolved. Please be aware that the reason that many of these concerns have not been fully answered yet is because many issues have no clear answers and depend on how the pandemic unfolds.

Clinical Placement Suspension and Return to Placements

  • Staff are currently working on the return of some students to placements, with a focus on sixth year students.
    • It is likely that the return of sixth year students will be stepwise and not all at once. The method of allocation is not yet determined, however staff will take into account previous placements to ensure that students are allocated equitably.
    • The placements will look different to the usual structure to minimise risk to students and the public while ensuring students are meeting requirements.
    • We are continuing to advocate that while students should return to placements promptly, exceptions should be made as there are many reasons why students may not feel comfortable returning to placements.
    • Staff are working on how this might look, however currently it is not clear what the outcome will be for students who cannot return to placement. These situations will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • There is no update on the minimum placement requirements for graduation or progression.
  • Year 5 rural students are being returned to modified placements arranged by the Adelaide Rural Clinical School in a pilot program.
  • There are no updates on the return of Year 5 metropolitan students, Year 4 students or Year 3 students. These groups are currently planned to proceed with online teaching for the time being.

Online Teaching Planning

  • The teaching hiatus is ongoing and staff are developing the online teaching activities for all year levels.
    • MMI and FBS will continue running until the upcoming mid-semester holidays.
  • Staff have developed working groups for each of the clinical years to plan content delivery.
  • All teaching is still paused (with the exception of MMI/FBS) - If a student is unsure about pre-existing requirements for any of their courses, they should contact the relevant course coordinator.
  • The AMSS is working with staff to provide feedback on online teaching planning in accordance with our position statement. Staff plan to increase student feedback on the development of the online programs through the EdReps.

Graduation and Progression Concerns

  • The school is working with the AMC to ensure alternative program delivery meets AMC requirements.
  • The AMC has offered flexibility and support to medical schools across Australia in light of disruptions to teaching.
  • There are no updates for students regarding plans for the academic calendar at this stage.

International and Interstate Student Concerns

  • Despite our advocacy, international students have been advised by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) and the Executive Dean of the Faculty that their fees will not be reduced, the census date will not be extended and that they are still advised to remain in Australia or, should they choose to return home, take a formal leave of absence or defer.
  • For any concerns regarding student fees, please contact student finance.
  • The Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) has established a taskforce to support international students, one of the international officers of the AMSS sits on this taskforce. If you would like any concerns raised to this group, please contact the international officers.
  • Staff have now communicated that interstate students will be allowed time to return to SA and abide by necessary self-quarantine measures when placements resume.

Assessment Concerns

  • There are no updates regarding changes to assessment. There will be no face-to-face assessment for Semester 1, however how this will impact end-of-semester exams is not clear.
  • An assessment team has been formed and is meeting regularly to determine the best way to structure assessments.
  • Staff have stated that assessment will take into account the disruption to normal teaching.

Academic Calendar Concerns

  • It is currently not clear what the academic calendar will look like for the rest of the year.
  • It is not clear whether the 5 week teaching hiatus is in lieu of or in addition to mid-year holidays.
  • We have flagged student concerns about an extended period of teaching if mid-year holidays are shortened. Staff are aware of these concerns and have stated that they will take these into consideration when planning teaching.
  • The AMSS will continue to advocate for reasonable teaching periods which balance adequate teaching with adequate break time.

Involvement of Medical Students in the Workforce

  • This is still the subject of ongoing discussions between the medical school and SA Health. This is not yet confirmed but will continue to be considered as the situation develops. Currently this is only being considered for Year 6 students.
  • Staff and SA Health are exploring different ways for students to be involved. It is not clear what this may entail, but it could be in the form of non-COVID clinical roles as 'sub interns' or Assistants in Medicine (AIMs).
  • The AMSS is advocating on this issue according to our position statement, namely we are advocating for this to be voluntary, safe, contributing to students' education/graduation and within students' scope of practice.

I understand that once again, this update may not have addressed many of your concerns. We will continue to update students as information becomes available. Please continue to send your concerns to your Year Level EdReps, they will be taken into account and raised.

As always, you are very welcome to email me directly about any questions and or concerns at vpe@amss.org.au - I am always available and keen to address these.

Teham Ahmad

Vice President (Education)