The Education Recession

The future of education

The novel Coronavirus has choked businesses and affected millions of people on a personal level too. Travel, tourism, aviation, hospitality, and more industries, have felt that rope the most. Billions of revenues are lost and companies are already struggling to keep afloat, while economists believe that Europe, and also the global economy, is slowly, but surely, heading towards a recession.

" At Kenes Group, we work with tens of thousands of medical doctors and we support various medical associations, so we wondered – how will science and education be affected in the long-run due to the COVID-19 pandemic? "
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs | Source: Simply Psychology

But how about science and education in these times? If we follow Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs, when the first levels are not satisfied, namely our physiological and safety needs, we cannot focus on the rest – love and belonging; esteem; and self-actualisation. And COVID-19 has certainly made us feel unsafe. For many, these extreme times would mean focus on the immediate threat and less focus on the rest.

At Kenes Group, we work with tens of thousands of medical doctors that come to our events and we support the management of various medical associations with as many members, so we wondered – how will science and education be affected in the long-run due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are our two cents.


Healthcare professionals (HCPs) in these times are being fully mobilised to support their hospitals, no matter their specialty. Multiple governments quickly reacted when the virus moved to Europe, and they placed orders for doctors not to travel to events abroad. It can be safe to assume, that even if travel and borders remained open as usual, medical conferences would still be affected just because of this measure.

So, what happens to continuous medical education? As the focus drastically shifts toward COVID-19, all countries are preparing for its mitigation. And in these moments of readying their lines, there is a great deal of live education that is needed regarding preventive measures, and also educating HCPs who may not be used to working in critical care/ICU units that suddenly have to be involved and briefed on the proper techniques for work in such circumstances. It is pivotal to teach fast and effective procedures such as intubations and how to wear personal protective equipment and the need for live simulations and training is greater than ever.


We are more connected than ever. We are seeing first-hand how a decision to cancel one congress ultimately forces associations to look inwards and re-evaluate if they can sustain operations until the next event without the profits it planned to gain. And this affects other non-for-profits and organisations in the same field. What would next year’s congresses look like? There are many factors at play that would affect the answer to this question. For now, many alternative forms of education, especially online webinars, e-Portals, and the like, are offered as an alternative. But how many associations will have the resources or the energy to develop this content at the moment? Many will also try to keep their journals on schedule to validate value to their members. But we do expect education in a year’s time to look very different from what it was planned to be today or tomorrow.

Maybe we can even argue that there will be an education recession. As in every recession, the question would start revolving around how much time the medical and scientific world needs to recover, once we put huge pressure on the whole system globally? Where is the silver lining?


What everyone needs to keep in mind is this – this too shall pass. Panic and stress won’t lead to a quick resolution, and for that, we need collectively to take action to get out of the crisis. From the associations that we support and manage, our Association Management team works hard to find solutions, that are needed by the different medical fields, right now. All HCPs need answers today, and connecting those communities is imperative. Yes, for the time being, we cannot do it at live events, and that’s where associations come to fill in a gap. Yes, face-to-face will never be replaced by technology, but technology can help connect the minds that are ready to act. We already see organic education and communication occurring as associations – the traditional form of community sharing – allow HCPs in different countries to share their experience and learn how to deal with this crisis.

Education takes many forms and while the more common traditional ones may be rather difficult to access right now, it doesn’t mean associations cannot be the conduit and champion this sharing and learning among peers.

There may be a small bump on the road to new science and findings, but when professional association management companies and their entrusted organisations put their minds together, this will remain exactly it – a bump on the road. And maybe this is what is needed to give us the leverage to see the situation from a different angle and find new solutions for the long run. We work closely with our partners – associations and the pharmaceutical industry too – to continue and encourage the sharing of knowledge and education. This is the only way to avoid an education recession.


This article was first published by IAPCO in The PCO, Issue No. 90, Q2 2020

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