Transition of a Primary Care Fellowship to A Virtual Format: Lessons Learned

Document Type : Brief Report


1 Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA

2 Department of Physician Assistant Studies, Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, OH, USA


The Community Primary Care Champions (CPCC) Fellowship program trains physicians and physician assistants to expand community underserved partnerships and healthcare transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic required a rapid transition to virtual platforms (e.g. Zoom) to facilitate the safe delivery of medical care and education. This report describes the resulting lessons learned in transitioning to a virtual fellowship. The fellowship involves self-directed learning, didactics, and smallgroup discussions. The first CPCC fellowship cohort included inperson instruction. A second cohort transitioned to a virtual-only format in March 2020 due to COVID-19. A third virtual-only cohort began in September 2020. Focus group data was analyzed for themes in the transition to a virtual format. Key lessons learned were derived during this transition including: 1) Realignment of focus of didactic and discussions for continued fellow engagement; 2) Leveraging virtual tools to optimize impact of activities; and 3) Geographic expansion of fellowship recruitment resulting in a more diverse cohort. A virtual fellowship has also allowed for refocused approaches to learning, building rapport, and an expanded reach in geography. This has enriched the experience of the fellowship by producing primary care champions in leadership and advocacy across practice environments. This supports retention of a virtual CPCC fellowship.


Sharma D, Bhaskar S. Addressing the Covid-19 Burden on Medical Education and Training: The Role of Telemedicine and Tele-Education During and Beyond the Pandemic. Front Public Health. 2020;8:589669. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.589669 PMid:33330333 PMCid:PMC7728659
Vollbrecht PJ, Porter-Stransky K, Lackey-Cornelison W. Lessons learned while creating an effective emergency remote learning environment for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adv Physiol Educ. 2020;44(4):722-725. doi:10.1152/advan.00140.2020 PMid:33141599 PMCid:PMC7686878
Schweiberger K, Hoberman A, Iagnemma J, Schoemer P, Squire J, Taormina J, Wolfson D, Ray KN. Practice-level variation in telemedicine use in a pediatric primary care network during the COVID-19 pandemic: retrospective analysis and survey study. Journal of medical internet research. 2020;22(12):e24345.  doi:10.2196/24345 PMid:33290244 PMCid:PMC7752181
Kruse J. Overcoming barriers to interprofessional education: The example of the joint position statement of the PA education association and the society of teachers of family medicine. Fam Med. 2021;44(8):586-587. PMid: 22930127
Schulz AJ, Mehdipanah R, Chatters LM, Reyes AG, Neblett EW, Israel BA. Moving Health Education and Behavior Upstream: Lessons From COVID-19 for Addressing Structural Drivers of Health Inequities. Health Educ Behav. 2020;47(4):519-524. doi:10.1177/1090198120929985 PMid:32408770
McNeely CL, Schintler LA, Stabile B. Social Determinants and COVID-19 Disparities: Differential Pandemic Effects and Dynamics. World Med Health Policy. 2020;12(3):206-217.  doi:10.1002/wmh3.370
Saiyad S, Virk A, Mahajan R, Singh T. Online teaching in medical training: establishing good online teaching practices from cumulative experience. Int J App Basic Med Res. 2020;10:149-55. doi:10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_358_20 PMid: 33088735  PMCid: PMC7534709
Gottlieb M, Egan DJ, Krzyzaniak SM, Wagner J, Weizberg M, Chan T. Rethinking the approach to continuing professional development conferences in the era of COVID-19. J Contin Educ Health. 2020;40:187-191. doi:10.1097/CEH.0000000000000310 PMid:32658014
Greater Cincinnati Primary Care Physician Shortage Approaches 200. primary-care-physician-shortage-approaches-200/. Published August 7, 2013. Accessed February 3, 2021.