Objective: To explore the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on a medical training program and to develop principles for professional training programs to consider in dealing with future, similar crises.
Design: Qualitative interviews analyzed using grounded theory methodology.
Setting: University-affiliated hospitals in Toronto, Canada during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Participants: Medical house staff who were allocated to a general internal medicine clinical teaching unit, infectious diseases consultation service, or intensive care unit.
Results: Seventeen medical residents participated in this study. Participants described their experiences during the outbreak and highlighted several themes including concerns about their personal safety and about the negative impact of the outbreak on patient care, house staff education, and their emotional well-being.
Conclusion: The ability of residents to cope with the stress of the SARS outbreak was enhanced by the communication of relevant information and by the leadership of their supervisors and infection control officers. It is hoped that training programs for health care professionals will be able to implement these tenets of crisis management as they develop strategies for dealing with future health threats.