In compliance with the University of Toronto guidelines concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, the Translational Research Program (TRP), is operating virtually—but it’s not business as usual! For one, we’ve changed our delivery model. We moved all our classes, individual development meetings, workshops and program meetings online. We did things, learned from what we did and then did things better, and over the last three weeks, we have been refining our approaches to make TRP online learning a fulfilling experience.
We’ve used Zoom for seminars, guest speakers, and presentations. Recently, one class had four guest discussants. Students went to four breakout rooms to engage in small group conversations. Then after 10 minutes, the guests rotated rooms—giving students the chance to interact with multiple guests with more intimate, although still mediated, way.
Surprisingly, although we have had to adjust our lesson plans, assignments and delivery strategies, the dive into these uncharted waters has resulted in minimal disruption to peer learning and collaboration. If fact, many students have expressed a preference for these, hereto, undiscovered countries, and we will need to rethink how to integrate more technology-mediated education into the everyday TRP curriculum.
Another significant adaptation at the TRP is Admissions and Recruitment. All of our future information sessions have been converted to virtual webinars. To allow for more personal interactions, we have implemented opportunities for one-on-one virtual consultations with our TRP team (book one here). Also, in line with current practices of social distancing, we are conducting interviews online.
But these programmatic shifts are only surface. What we are most proud of are the initiatives of the TRP Community as a whole. We have launched a TRP Heroes initiative to help acknowledge the voices of our students involved in frontline healthcare interventions.
Meanwhile, another group of students is working on initiating an Innovation Salon to capture current needs and gaps in the healthcare system and then find ways to brainstorm potential innovative interventions. The group has so far tackled the need to implement effective communication with families and caregivers, facilitated the development of 3D printed prototype Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs).
We are monitoring the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, heeding the advice of public health authorities, but as a program and a community, we are by no means docile.
Our motivations at the TRP have always included trying to foster meaningful collaborations, challenge conventional thinking, and champion positive changes, and these aims have never seemed more profound than now.
As we all adjust to our new reality, remember to stay safe, and that we are all part of a larger community. Our community at the TRP is changing and evolving, and we look forward to engaging with our current AND future members.
The world needs innovation. The world needs creative problem-solvers. Join US.
>> Going Virtual >>
Zoya Retiwalla for the TRP – March 30, 2020