Opportunities and challenges of e-learning in vocational training in General Practice – a project report about implementing digital formats in the KWBW-Verbundweiterbildungplus.
Background: The task of the Competence Centers for vocational training (KW) is to increase the attractiveness and quality of vocational (=post-graduate) training in general practice. For this purpose, they offer, among other things, a structured seminar program for post-graduate trainees in general practice (GP-trainees). During the Covid-19 pandemic the seminar program of the KWBW-Verbundweiterbildungplus® in Baden-Württemberg was converted to digital formats. The goal of the paper is to evaluate the acceptance by the GP-trainees and lecturers, to describe experiences with the conversion to e-learning and to derive recommendations with regard to the future orientation of seminar programs in post-graduate as well as continuing medical education. The implementation was based on a modified Kern-cycle and aimed at offering eight teaching units of 45 minutes each to a large number of GP-trainees. It tried to maintain the high quality of content and education as well as the interactive character of the previous seminars. For this purpose, the events were designed as synchronous webinars (six units) with asynchronous preparation and post-processing (two units) according to the flipped classroom method. The evaluation by the participating GP-trainees and lecturers was performed online using a multi-center developed and pre-piloted questionnaire. Results and discussion: N=101 GP-trainees participated in the evaluation of five individual seminar days in the second quarter of 2020 (response rate 97%). 58% (N=59) of the trainees were satisfied or very satisfied with the implementation. 82% (n=83) rated pre-tasks as helpful. 99% (n=100) would participate in an online seminar again. For 52% (n=53) of the trainees, the attitude towards e-learning had changed positively. The main advantages mentioned were no travel, save in time and costs as well as increased flexibility. The main disadvantages mentioned were less personal interaction and technical obstacles. The high acceptance of the new digital format showed the fundamental potential of e-learning in continuing medical education. The experiences can be a source of inspiration for other departments and KW. However, it also shows that important goals of KW, such as the personal interaction of the peer group, could not be achieved. In the future, it is important to develop a suitable mix of presence and digital formats with the aim to improve the attractiveness as well as sustainability of continuing medical education.