skip to main content

Daily Updates

Health Science Center Colleagues

The Texas A&M University Office of Environmental Health & Safety, based on guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Surgeon General, has issued recommendations for essential personnel and others who may otherwise need to be on campus in regards to face covering. See the attached recommendations and guidance for proper face mask usage and care. (PDF)

Proactive measures such as these work to eliminate unnecessary spread, and protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

I ask that these measures be reviewed and implemented across all of our Health Science Center campuses located throughout the state.

Whether you are essential personnel or working from a remote location, thank you to each and every one of you for continuing to drive our institution forward in this challenging time.

Stay safe, wash your hands and wear a mask!

Thank you for all that you are doing during this difficult time.  We’re going to get through this together, and when we get past this, we’ll start working together again to make our health science center the best in Texas!

Greg Hartman
Texas A&M University
Interim Senior Vice President | Health Science Center 
Vice Chancellor | Texas A&M University System
Clinical Building 1, Suite 3100 | 8441 Riverside Pkwy | Bryan, TX 77807
ph: 979.436.9101  | ghartman@tamu.edu

COM Daily COVID-19 Communication

Friday, April 3, 2020

Updates from Academic Affairs for M1-M4 (PDF)

 

Dear Students,

Howdy, we hope you and those you love are well during this difficult time.

We are now three weeks into the College of Medicine’s COVID Contingency Planning. This week has been a week of re-evaluation to determine the next phase of our curriculum continuity plan. We have reassessed the national, regional, TAMU, and COM current state to determine how to best move forward.

April 13th is the next transition point for most classes, so we wanted to provide you with an update to describe what your class-specific schedule will be at that time.

 

A brief summary of curriculum-related decisions that have been made so far:

  • Please be aware that these decisions are contingency plans that are subject to change. Curriculum Committee has been actively reviewing and providing feedback on all plans. Similarly, the student subcommittee continues to provide valuable feedback.
  • COM has implemented a no-patient-contact rule in accordance with the AAMC/LCME recommendations.
  • CLRC resources remain very limited at this time and will continue to impact simulation training and assessment.
  • NBME customized exams for pre-clerkship continue to be unavailable. Some new but limited offerings will come available in mid-late April that we will be investigating their use in our curriculum.
  • NBME exams for clerkships are becoming available in mid-April for delivery under a modified proctoring rule.
  • Campuses continue to develop a variety of learning activities that will be available as SIEs for M2s-M4s to meet no-patient-contact needs.

 

Factors impacting our next decisions:

  • AAMC/LCME Guidelines - Extended the no-patient-contact guideline to April 14, to preserve student safety, preservation of PPE, and current patient testing limitations. We will not be surprised to see this extended a bit further. They also have said that totally no-patient-contact clerkships not acceptable.
  • Current Peak Projections - Peak expected across the country to occur through April-early May. The current projection for Texas is for a peak around the first week in May, obviously subject to change.
  • Shelter-In-Place - Expecting most counties to extend through April; however, Dallas county just extended their orders through May 20. Public schools closures continue (ex. Brazos County through May 6).
  • TAMU- Summer sessions will be delivered online, and there is a possibility that the fall semester to be impacted.
  • Campus Deans Status Reports - Affiliate Health Care Systems are already strained or will be very soon.

 

Updated class-specific curriculum decisions:

 

M1s:

  • The next transition from ID to CV is April 13th.
  • M1s will continue in semester 2 courses (CV, Resp, MSGR, POM2)
  • The goal continues to be to finish Semester 2 on the current schedule.
  • Course content – delivered online either as recorded content or zoom meetings. Each course is actively adapting to these parameters.
  • CSIEs – trialed by ZOOM in ID block, and will continue for subsequent blocks.
  • TBLS – continue for EnMed via ZOOM.
  • CPCs – ZOOM format has been created.
  • CLRC - resources remain very limited, so POM2 continues to adjust.
  • Assessments
    • Modified testing will continue (content, delivery, proctoring)
    • Internal exams will continue for now. Should NBME situation change will address course by course.
    • Proctoring continues to be the biggest hurdle. The priority is to deliver exams on same calendar dates but be flexible in content, delivery, and proctoring methods. Courses will continue to address this on an exam by exam basis and keep students informed.
    • OSCEs are not available at this time.
  • Final Grades
    • Changes in grading schemes are under discussion for ID. The pre-clerkship subcommittee and student subcommittee are providing perspectives to the Curriculum Committee.
    • Incompletes can be assigned should there be further unexpected disruption to completing courses.

 

M2s:

  • The next key transition in the curriculum is April 13th.
  • The plan is to make this transition as scheduled, so all M2s to start USMLE Step 1 self-study if not already doing so now.

 

M3s:

  • The next transition in the curriculum is April 13th.
  • There are three groups of M3s:
    • M3s due to start short clerkships (Pedi, Psych, FM, Ob/Gyn)
    • M3s due to start long clerkships (IM, Surg)
    • M3s in AIM
  • Drivers for our decisions
    • M3s are in the last clerkships for the academic year.
    • We need to minimize further delays in their schedule as much as possible.
    • We can leverage the combination of front-loaded no-patient contact content to be a part of Step 2 prep.
    • Based on information from yesterday’s national AAMC meeting, we are consistent with what many other schools are doing.
    • Clerkship input during the COM’s Council of Course Directors meeting this week.
  • April 13th – all M3s will be in 3 weeks of electives
  • May 4th – ALL clerkships will begin
  • Both long block clerkships (IM/Surg) will front-load no-patient-contact activities (didactics/self-study) for 4 weeks. Patient care will then resume if available to complete the remaining 4 weeks.
  • All short block clerkships will front-load no-patient-contact activities (didactics/self-study) for 3 weeks. Patient care will then resume if available to complete the remaining 3 weeks.
  • Details about frontloading will be provided during clerkship orientation sessions.
  • If patient contact is still restricted upon completion of the front-loading period, students will transition into their next non-patient contact clerkship (shorts) or electives (longs).
  • Concurrent with these activities student should be studying for Step 2. Academic Success office will be helping with this.
  • NBMEs will be offered at the end of front loading to minimize the need for future testing. All clerkships have agreed that a student will be able to retake the NBME if they fail or are unsatisfied with their score. Details around this are still under discussion.
  • OSCE will continue to be delayed. All clerkships with OSCE are open to having a future multi-disciplinary OSCE to minimize the number of OSCEs needed to complete clerkships.
  • Clerkship administrators (directors and coordinators) are your primary contacts during this time.
  • M3s AIM
    • AIM will continue the track learning activities to complete the third year.
  • We will make any needed modifications to this plan as of May 4th approaches.
  • Impact on 4th year
    • USMLE Step 2 CK availability remains unclear at this time.
    • Make-up experiences will be initiated once patient contact allowed.

 

MS4:

  • The goal remains to get M4s graduated as scheduled.
  • Student Affairs requested feedback about early graduation interest.
  • Student Affairs Deans will continue to be the primary contact for you. Navigators will be available to help as well.
  • Discussions are ongoing with input from your class officers about doing some sort of online virtual ceremony similar to the real thing with regalia being delivered to your home if you wish.

 

Hopefully, you will find this email helpful in understanding some of the work the COM has and is doing to take care of you during this time.

Sincerely,
Jeremy Gibson MD

COM Daily COVID-19 Communication

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 5:10 PM

Dear COM All,

The COM Leadership team met this morning and following further instruction from TAMU (please see President Young’s message from today down below), we have the following updates as it pertains to all of our campuses:

  • For our BCS campus=Brazos county has a shelter-in-place order going into effect at 9:00 PM tonight
  • For our Dallas campus=Dallas county has a shelter-in-place order already in place
  • For our Houston campus=Harris county has a shelter-in-place order going into effect at midnight tonight
  • For our Round Rock campus=Austin/Travis/Williamson counties have a stay at home (shelter-in-place) order going into place tonight at midnight
  • For our Temple campus=Bell county started a shelter-in-place last night
  • If you have any questions regarding the specifics for your campus or site, please reach out to your respective Campus Dean
  • As of tomorrow, March 25, we will be further limiting access to our BCS buildings (CB1, HPEB, MREB I, MREB II, and Reynolds) in an effort to further limit the spread of COVID-19. Please realize that we still have clinical and research functions, which remain “mission-critical.”
  • Dr. Hubi Amrein, our Vice Dean of Research, is working with our basic science Department Heads here in BCS to develop a plan around our “mission-critical” research labs to minimize those in the building at any one time-please look for further messaging from him regarding the specifics
  • For our BCS facilities, as soon as feasible, we will be working with campus security to make one entrance available to all buildings with badge access for only those faculty and staff considered “mission-critical.” If you are not clear if your position is mission-critical, please reach out to your supervisor or Department Head.
  • Everyone coming into any of our campus facilities is required to self-monitor on a daily basis for fever and/or other symptoms. If symptoms or fever are present, we need you to stay at home and call your healthcare provider. Even if you are well if you know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or an undiagnosed febrile or respiratory illness, stay at home.
  • Those of you who are considered high risk (greater than 60 years of age and/or with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, immunocompromised, or lung disease) must telecommute/work from home until further notice. If you feel the need to have an exception to this, please contact your supervisor.
  • On all campuses, including HPEB in BCS, we will be discontinuing access to facility study space for our students as of tomorrow, March 25. If this presents a hardship to any of our students in terms of computer/Wi-Fi access please reach out to your respective Campus Deans (for medical students) or your Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, Dr. Carol Vargas at carolvargasb@tamu.edu (for graduate students).
  • For our areas of focus, we have identified the following point people to be your resources for specific questions:
  • For our employed clinical faculty and staff, if you have concerns about going home to your significant other/families after a possible exposure to COVID-19 (that occurs while performing your clinical duties) and would like us (COM) to provide you with a hotel room in town, please reach out to your respective Department Head
  • Please realize our goal is your safety and well-being. We are further restricting access to facilities by our faculty and staff (in BCS and all campuses) to mitigate exposure and minimize those having to consequently self-isolate for weeks.

These are challenging times, for sure, and I appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we navigate all of this.  I would also ask that each of us be thankful that we have stable positons and an amazing College of Medicine family.

Thanks,
Amy Waer, MD
Interim Dean
Executive Dean of Education and Academic Programs

COM Daily COVID-19 Communication

COM Daily COVID-19 Update about Brazos County issues two-week shelter-in-place order
Monday, March 23, 2020, at 6:06 PM

Dear COM All,

Please see below regarding breaking news for the Brazos county going to a shelter-in-place as of tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24 at 9:00 PM.

The COM leadership team will connect with TAMU and meet tomorrow to send out further messaging regarding the logistics of such. Also, please look for Zoom check-in meeting invites coming for three groups for mid-week:

  1. Faculty (employed and affiliated)
  2. All staff
  3. All students (graduate and medical)

Thanks,
Amy Waer

COM Daily COVID-19 Communication

Sent on behalf of Amy L. Waer, MD, FACS, Interim Dean for College of Medicine
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 5:41 PM

Dear COM All,

The Medical Sciences Library has gone virtual at all locations including Bryan, College Station, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, and Kingsville. Our librarians and staff are available for consultations, reference, and instructional assistance – just not in person. Our online resources are available and we are still providing GetItForMe services (which are operating for digital items at the moment). We are monitoring askmsl@library.tamu.edu, and the Libraries have created an online page for updated information on services and hours for Texas A&M University Libraries. The Business Library and Learning Commons, located across the parking lot from MSL in College Station, is currently open with limited seating consistent with public health recommendations for social distancing.

Greg Hartman has gotten a request from the TAMU Galveston campus for a physician or a nurse to come to the campus twice per week to provide some level of urgent care, flu check, etc. type services starting as soon as possible. Travel expenses and a stipend would be provided for such. If any of you are interested, please reach out to me via email at waer@tamu.edu

Latest (March 18) COVID-19 CDC document (PDF)

For ALL of our medical students, but especially our MS2-MS4 students, we continue to message regarding no direct patient contact is approved at this time, whether part of a course or volunteering. This will eventually be relaxed when the time is right, but we aren’t there yet.

We understand many MS4s are worried about the remaining required courses needed for graduation. Please know that we are all committed to finding ways to work around this and have you graduate on time.

There are many questions about how clerkships and electives will be handled in the near term. We have been meeting with each clerkship to determine how you can successfully complete any current clerkship you are on. We are also working on replacement non-patient contact electives to offer you while we are in these unusual circumstances. By early next week, we anticipate being able to roll more of these out. Anticipate working with your Academic Navigators and others to make the needed changes. Look for more information next week.

Please be aware that we need you to stay on your campus, and be prepared to be directed toward next steps (realizing that this may mean going into healthcare facilities via non-patient entrance mechanisms and observing patient care through indirect means).

To clarify for our MD-PhD students you are also beholden to the no direct patient contact restrictions until further notice if you have any logistical questions regarding this please reach out to Dr. Julian Leibowitz and/or Dr. David Huston

For our faculty and staff, we will continue to telecommute (i.e. work from home) next week (March 23 – 27, 2020), with a few exceptions granted. Please work with your department head or direct supervisor if you have questions.

A fun video from our Houston campus for our MS4s matching tomorrow.

Thank you,
Amy Waer

COM Daily COVID-19 Communication

Message from the Interim Dean
Updated: March 13, 2020, 9:11 p.m. CDT

  • From March 16 to 20, all of our M1s at both our Bryan-College Station and Houston campuses are excused from all educational sessions and encouraged not to come to campus.
  • The College of Medicine leadership team is deciding curricular contingency plans for our M1s to move completely online for possibly the rest of the semester where feasible
  • As of Monday, March 16, all of our M2s, M3s and M4s are attending clinical activities as already scheduled unless you have specifically heard otherwise from our clinical affiliates or Dr. Gary McCord’s office
  • With regard to our College of Medicine faculty and staff, only “mission-critical” are to come to campus March 16 to 20; all others are to telecommute (i.e. work from home). If you are not sure if you are mission-critical, please check with your respective supervisor.
  • With regard to our graduate students, all classes are canceled from March 16 to 20.
  • Graduate student research, at this time, can continue at the discretion of the college. Please note that additional information from the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies will be forthcoming.
  • All student employees are allowed to work next week IF they wish. Direct supervisors, please communicate with your student employees.
  • All high-risk faculty, staff and students including those 60 years or older and those with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and/or immunocompromised states must telecommute from March 16 to 20.
  • No activities can occur on any of our campuses with more than 50 people until further notice. Please note that some campuses, such as Houston, are now limiting to groups less than 15. Adhere to your campus specific requests.
  • Groups of less than 50 can currently still meet, but need to ensure adequate social distance capability (6 feet apart)