Clin Rheumatol. 2020 Sep 17. doi: 10.1007/s10067-020-05405-9. Online ahead of print.
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has unsettled conventional medical education, hastening a switch to digital platforms and open-access publishing. Rheumatology is a fast evolving academic discipline that stands to gain by this switch. Most rheumatology textbooks are now available in digital formats, and these are complemented with live updating educational hubs such as UpToDate and ClinicalKey. Emerging topics of COVID-19 on these proprietary platforms are now freely available to all specialists. Social media channels, particularly Twitter, are becoming major players in the era of COVID-19 by offering online journal clubs, enabling fast dissemination of influential articles, and facilitating interactive education. Indexed rheumatology journals, in turn, aid online education by opening access to recommendations and other materials that are rapidly changing research and practice worldwide. Research peer review additionally offers learning experience to novice and seasoned researchers and authors. Global rheumatology societies have online learning resources, which are changing their format and geographic reach to meet the changing needs in the times of pandemic. While online teaching lacks emotional connections between mentors and mentees, switch to a more interactive format of education and regular contacts may partly solve the issue. Rheumatologists can take the lead in these challenging times and contribute more to online scholarly activities which are aimed to maintain and enrich education. Key Points • Disparities in rheumatology education are likely to be widened during the COVID-19 pandemic. • Barriers to rheumatology education include limited number of instructors and their limited experience in online teaching. • Online textbooks, didactic materials of indexed rheumatology journals, and frequently updated online educational hubs such as UpToDate serve as a foundation of online rheumatology education. • Online rheumatology education is enriched by peer review and social media activities, which are becoming major players in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.