Teaching and learning
The health and well-being of all our staff and students, as well as that of patients, continues to be RCSI’s number one priority, and within this context, we will deliver as much face-to-face teaching as possible through our campuses in RCSI St Stephen’s Green including 26 York Street. Mercer, the Smurfit Education and Research Centre Beaumont Hospital and Connolly Hospital as well as at clinical sites throughout Dublin and Ireland.
There will inevitably be sessions that will be delivered digitally, including the live-streaming of some lectures, which we ask students to attend virtually and synchronously. However, there will be a shift to small group teaching, and all clinical pathology cases (CPCs), clinical microbiology cases (CMCs), tutorials, practical skills and clinical skills will be done face-to-face.
Due to the additional pressures for space imposed by physical distancing, we have taken the unusual, but innovative step of creating a unique ‘satellite campus’ at the historic Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). You can read more about this on the 'your campus' page.
With the new health and safety protocols in place, all students must also attend an in-person induction so that they can familiarise themselves with the new social distancing and hygiene measures required to ensure their own safety and that of the RCSI community.
Classes are ordinarily delivered at our University between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, but to allow for students to be taught in smaller groups, we are changing our timetables, please consult the semester dates for your programme for more information.
As part of our preparations for welcoming all our students back next semester, our staff have been working hard to ensure that any element of the programmes that need to be delivered online will be interactive, engaging and suitably challenging!
We want the learning experience to switch seamlessly between the physical campus, or clinical setting, and the virtual world so that students achieve all the usual outcomes expected at each stage of the course. Our experts in digital learning are collaborating with lecturers to help develop truly interactive lectures that use new techniques such as online polls and quizzes to foster active student participation.
We are also enhancing our online content with more elements from our simulation team, so students can expect to see more situations where our academic staff incorporate simulation into their teaching.
Some of the other creative approaches students can expect from RCSI academics on our digital platforms include: virtual ward rounds, online case studies with simulated patients, flipped laboratory sessions – with the focus on problem-solving and group discussion - and patient history taking exercises, among other things.
Academically, students will be taught in small groups, which we call 'learning communities'. These learning communities will provide you with a more personalised learning experience; you will experience learning and teaching within your community group, and extracurricular/co-curricular activities will also be based around these learning communities or subgroupings.
For our new students, each learning community will have an academic lead (member of RCSI faculty) and a student engagement lead. The student engagement lead will lead the wellness and social activities of the learning community and help students to engage in areas of personal and group interest.
In line with Government guidelines on capacity restrictions and in order to ensure the safest possible environment for our students, home rooms have been assigned to programmes, where possible. A home room refers to the venue your group has been allocated for your onsite campus learning. This will limit the need for cross over between groups and venues and acts as an additional health and safety measure to protect our staff and students.
New students will be assigned a personal tutor who is a member of faculty from the relevant year of the curriculum. The role of the personal tutor is focused on ensuring that each individual student is known and valued and that their needs are recognised and supported. Timetabled small group sessions between tutors and students will occur on a weekly basis in the first weeks of the academic year. They will consist of discussions and activities which will provide academic and pastoral support to students.
Each group meeting (which can be facilitated online) will have a specific theme and focus e.g. time management and independent learning skills. Students will also have regular individual meetings with their personal tutor.
Academic staff are also available for consultation where students are experiencing academic difficulties. While returning students will already know their personal tutor, new students are encouraged to get to know their personal tutors, as they are a valuable source of support throughout your years in RCSI. You will be advised of your personal tutor after registration.
Laboratory practicals, anatomy and experience of professional practice are essential parts of the first year experience. We are restructuring these activities to provide high-quality and safe learning experiences. As these are fundamental to learning, we will use personal protective equipment (PPE) where required – students will be educated in the use of PPE.
The simulation centre will be a central theme in clinical learning this term as hospital and community placement for Undergraduate medical students poses significant on-going difficultly. The Simulation department has developed a virtual 'TeleSim' programme including telephone and video consultations with simulated patients and online skills tutorials with equipment couriered to individual students and live video feedback on task performance.
We are continuing to expand blended learning solutions combining virtual learning with on-site simulation to provide clinically relevant immersive learning experiences and collaborative learning. High fidelity mannequin simulation allows our student to experience realistic clinical events to practice skills and decision making in a safe learning environment. The centre will be opening for longer hours where students will practice in study pods and continue to engage online with follow-up video conferenced consolations.
Clinical experience forms an important part of your academic journey. We are working together with our clinical colleagues to restructure these activities to provide a high quality and safe learning environment. As these sessions are fundamental to your clinical learning experience, we will use PPE where required.
Clinical case-based teaching will continue in our clinical and simulated teaching facilities and online. Access to clinical sites will be coordinated at year level as appropriate and will comply with best practice protocols as advised on each site.
For all students who are to attend clinical placements on return, the hospitals have asked that we arrange a COVID-19 swab test at commencement of your year. RCSI will co-ordinate this testing around start dates and arrangements will be communicated to you.
Where possible, we are aiming to place students that live together in the same clinical rotations. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 if any students contract the virus.
Thank you for those of you who have already responded to our survey about your accommodation plans for next year.
If you require assistance on this matter, please contact your programme coordinator.
Our clinical teaching experts will ensure that all students are exposed to sufficient clinical knowledge and skills to meet the required learning outcomes. Our objective is to safely progress while adhering to current COVID-19 guidelines and prioritising patient, student and staff safety.
The protocols for our clinical sites will be communicated directly with you via Moodle and your programme coordinator.