Journal: Academic Medicine Author: Sigdel S, Ozaki A, Dhakal R, Pradhan B, Tanimoto T. Publication Date: Dec 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a global shift toward online distance learning due to travel limitations and physical distancing requirements as well as medical school and university closures. In low- and middle-income countries like Nepal, where medical education faces a range of challenges—such as lack of infrastructure, well-trained educators, and advanced technologies—the abrupt changes in methodologies without adequate preparation are more challenging than in higher income countries.

In this article, the authors discuss the COVID-19-related changes and challenges in Nepal that may have a drastic impact on the career progression of current medical students. Outside the major cities, Nepal lacks dependable internet services to support medical education, which frequently requires access to and transmission of large files and audiovisual material. Thus, students who are poor, physically disadvantaged, and who do not have a home situation conducive to online study may be affected disproportionately. Further, the majority of teachers and students do not have sufficient logistical experience and knowledge to conduct or participate in online classes. Moreover, students and teachers are unsatisfied with the digital methodologies, which will ultimately hamper the quality of education. Students’ clinical skills development, research activities, and live and intimate interactions with other individuals are being affected.

Even though Nepal’s medical education system is struggling to adapt to the transformation of teaching methodologies in the wake of the pandemic, it is important not to postpone the education of current medical students and future physicians during this crisis. Looking ahead, medical schools in Nepal should ensure that mechanisms are proactively put into place to embrace new educational opportunities and technologies to guarantee a regular supply of high-quality physicians capable of both responding effectively to any future pandemic and satisfying the nation’s future health care needs.
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