Early Online: Issue 4

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Early Online: Issue 4: Exploring the challenges and opportunities for learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic: Academics’ and students’ experiences in the clinical technology undergraduate programme in South Africa. (2023). African Journal of Health Professions Education, 15(3). https://doi.org/10.7196/AJHPE.2023.v15i4.830


Background. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant influence on all spheres of society. This influence was particularly apparent in healthcare and in the training of health professionals within an already resource-constrained country such as South Africa. The purpose of this study was to explore the challenges and opportunities for learning from the point of view of students undertaking the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) in Clinical Technology programme, which is a specialised and distinctive field, as well as the academics involved in this programme.

Objective. To explore how the clinical training practice component of the undergraduate programme was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods. A qualitative, exploratory research design was used. A non-probability purposive sampling method was selected. Students and academics were recruited and sampled. The first sample comprised 15 students from each of the 17 clinical departments where clinical training was undertaken. The second sample included 4 academics who were involved in teaching and supervising the placement of students at various healthcare institutions. Data were gathered using in-depth, semi-structured interviews on an adapted version of Gibbs’ cycle of reflection. Six questions were presented to each participant, underpinned by the findings from the literature review and modified specifically to the context of this study.

Results. Four broad themes emerged: support for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic; impact of the pandemic on students’ mental wellbeing; transitioning to the online learning space; and finding opportunities in the time of crisis.

Conclusion. This study highlights the issues of preparedness for crisis situations by higher education institutions, academics and students and underscores the need for curricula to be more responsive to student and societal needs.



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