#CAPVirtualPath: Reimagining Education in the Midst of COVID-19
Blog Posted: June 17, 2020

How is it possible to educate when the best practice in today’s world is social distancing and sheltering-in-place? Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of closed colleges and universities across the globe, #CAPVirtualPath was born. #CAPVirtualPath is the hashtag for the College of American Pathologists (CAP; @pathologists) virtual lecture series which began in April.

“Many CAP junior members found their training programs affected by their institution's COVID-19 response. To help them, the CAP provided a virtual program consisting of great lectures given by Fellows of the College of American Pathologists (FCAPs)," explained Dr. Patrick Godbey (@PatGodbeyMD), CAP president. “The CAP also decided to remove the fees on more than 75 online CME/SAM courses to help our members at a time when many saw their work and their incomes decrease greatly.”

#pathtwitter went bananas over #CAPVirtualPath. Daily tweets sent by everyone from med students to seasoned pathologists who attended #CAPVirtualPath filled up our Twitter feed. How can anyone ignore intriguing lecture titles such as Spleen Pathology – Red, White, and Hungry for Blood, When Selfies Go Bad: A Look at Autoantibodies and Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia and Tik Tox, A 3-Part Toxicology Primer? As FOMO was settling in, we decided to attend a lecture and chose Concepts in Cytopathology: Discovering the Art Behind the Magic led by Dr. Chris VandenBussche (@cjvand). We were blown away that CAP lecturers were able to communicate their high level of expertise in the virtual lecture format and in a way that felt like the audience members were a part of a connected learning experience. It was also a fun lecture where live tweeting was encouraged and there was a real-time Q&A session at the end. Sometimes we don’t get that level of interaction during our in-person classes!

CAP assembled experts from specialties across the field of pathology to give high-quality lectures at just the right time and at just the right price - free! “Making these lectures free by CAP has opened the door to medical students, residents and even practicing pathologists to learn from the experts in the field. It was great initiative by CAP to start the #CAPVirtualPath, commented Dr. Gagandeep Kaur (@Gagandeepk5MD), a PGY-2 at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.

Dr. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay (@smlungpathguy), Director of Pulmonary Pathology at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and #CAPVirtualPath lecturer, added, “I enjoyed the Q&A at the end, the tweeting afterwards and the great feedback. We did this quickly when other lectures weren’t happening. Best of all, these were free and open to anyone anywhere in the world. I also love that so many teachers stepped up to the plate at short notice and did what they love to do.” Dr. Kamran Mirza (@KMirza), Medical Director of Molecular Pathology at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois and one of the lecturers, stated, “The #CAPVirtualPath series is a testament to CAP's commitment to education. Every aspect of this endeavor was fantastic - from the breadth and range of the topics covered to its broad reach (thousands of attendees every day!)"

One of those attendees was in Manila, Philippines. Emmanuel Joshua Garcia (@anueru432), a second-year medical student at University of Santo Tomas, was attending #CAPVirtualPath...at midnight! “When Dr. Mirza first announced a virtual online lecture about pathology I was ecstatic. The first lecture with Dr. BJ Magnani (@bjmagnani) was a blast, and little by little with the next lectures, my love for pathology grew even more. Every day was an out of the world experience! It was a nightly conversation with the experts of the field, a once in a lifetime opportunity. My favorite parts were the summary slides as well as the live Q&A. And it just keeps getting better! I've gotten to interact with lecturers and learn more! The pathology posts I once just retweeted - I now actively give differentials. Do I get them right? Of course not. But every post is just a learning opportunity waiting to be discovered!”

Can’t you just feel his excitement and appreciation for these lectures! And the experiences of attendees keeps getting better. “I thoroughly enjoyed CAP virtual pathology lectures! The information given appeared to be relevant to the boards, and they presented high yield information. I was able to network afterwards with presenters via Twitter. I’m very glad the information is available for review for a later time,” said Dr. Michele West (@DocBarbieMD), an incoming PGY-1 who just matched at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Let’s give Dr. West a HUGE congratulations and warm welcome to pathology and #pathtwitter!)

Dr. Marilyn Bui (@DrBuiPathology), Chair of the CAP Publication Committee, stated, “#CAPVirtualPath is testimony that CAP is the leader in pathology education especially in difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. I value my CAP membership and the relationship with my colleagues within the CAP. Organized we are stronger.”

Recently we ran a #pathtwitter poll and asked what's been your favorite aspect of @Pathologists virtual pathology lectures? With Connecting with peers representing nearly one-quarter of all votes, it’s apparent that #CAPVirtualPath brought learning opportunities that felt anything but virtual.

Poll Results
Case Review - 56.1%
Q&A - 17.5%
Connecting with peers - 24.6%

CAP Governor Dr. Donald Karcher (@DonKarcherMD) stated, “The CAP is pleased and proud to have provided the CAP Virtual Lecture Series for residents and students starting in April. As the COVID-19 emergency disrupted resident and student training, we wanted to provide something to fill the gap in everyone's curriculum. The lecture series has been successful beyond our wildest dreams!” And he added sweet words we are enthused to share. “As training slowly returns to "normal" we recognize that the "new normal" will certainly be different. As a result, we're currently working on making the CAP Virtual Lecture Series a permanent resource for the pathology community.”

It’s clear that disease, distance and time constraints are no match for CAP, and they have persevered to bring quality pathology education to students, residents, fellows and practicing pathologists from across the globe. Perhaps we can all learn from CAP that virtual lectures can be an integral part and even value-add to the "new normal" for teaching and learning experiences. Perhaps we can even take it a step further and develop creative ways for virtual hands-on learning - digital pathology, anyone? In the words of Dr. Karcher, “We hope everyone will stay tuned and keep learning!”

Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit https://instapathbio.com/tech/ or contact us at info@instapathbio.com.

Mei Wang Mei Wang, Ph.D. | CEO at Instapath
Tags:  CAP virtual-learning #CAPVirtualPath