When the COVID-19 pandemic halted face to face events, ASHM had to pivot quickly to ensure health professionals were able to continue accessing high quality education to support their work. This was particularly true for the HIV and Hepatitis B Prescriber Programs which accredit general practitioners and nurse practitioners to prescribe s100 highly specialised drugs. The HIV s100 Prescriber Course which is a two-day course, and the Hepatitis B Prescriber Course which is a one-day course, are both courses which are quite intensive and interactive. So, adapting the courses to an online format required consideration of adult learning principles and understanding how adult learners engage with virtual platforms.  

Converting the prescriber courses to online has many benefits to our participants.  They are able to complete much of the course work at times that suit them, which is particularly beneficial in healthcare at the moment, with so many of our clinicians busy with COVID-19.  It also means that attending sessions after hours or from remote areas is possible for many participants as they can attend these from home.  By having our courses available on the ASHM learning management system participants can access all the course work including live webinars from a single portal. This helps ASHM ensure we are delivering a streamlined, positive user experience.  

There are many aspects of course delivery which are possible in the face to face world but don’t work as well online. It is very difficult (some may say impossible!) for example, to keep people engaged in an online session for a whole day let alone across two days.  For this reason, we have changed our full day face to face sessions into several shorter, facilitated online sessions using Zoom. The facilitated sessions are focussed on interactive content to allow participants to learn from each other and their facilitators. The breakout room features in Zoom are an excellent platform for small group case discussions while also providing networking opportunities for our participants.  

We have converted other course components to be self-directed online activities, such as video modules and interactive quizzes, which provide participants with the flexibility to complete tasks at their own pace.  Support is available throughout the course with a discussion board which is facilitated by the ASHM administrator team and a clinical advisor. This combination of facilitated online sessions, video content and online exercises also mean participants are engaging via a number of different channels which in turn, keeps them engaged in the course content.   

We have already received an enormous amount of positive feedback on our online prescriber courses with participants commenting on the quality of the content, the user friendly experience and responsive support. We have successfully trained 54 people in the HIV Prescriber Course and 30 in the Hepatitis B Prescriber course using our online environment and it’s getting bigger and better everyday.  

Online course delivery allows our participants increased options for learning and allows them to access our courses from remote areas.  The experience of converting the traditional face to face learning to an online environment has bred innovation and opened up an exciting world of opportunities. ASHM sees the future of training as building on and integrating the online environment with face to face options to deliver high quality education that is more accessible, flexible and meets the needs of the learner when, where and how they want it.