Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the healthcare system. Owing to restrictions in elective surgery and social distancing guidelines, the training curriculum for neurosurgical trainees has been rapidly evolving. This evolution could have significant long-term effects on the training of neurosurgery residents. The objective of the present study was to assess the effects of COVID-19 on neurosurgical training programs and residents.
Methods: A survey consisting of 31 questions assessing changes to resident clinical and educational workload and their sentiment regarding how these changes might affect their careers was distributed electronically to neurosurgery residents in the United States and Canada.
Results: The survey respondents were from 29 states and Canada and were relatively evenly spread across all levels of residency. Nearly 82% reported that the inpatient and outpatient volumes had been either greatly (44.0%) or moderately (37.8%) reduced. Greater than 91% reported that their work responsibilities or access to the hospital had been reduced, with a significant reduction in work hours and a significant increase in resident didactics (P < 0.001). Senior residents expressed concern about their educational experience and their future career prospects as a result of the pandemic.
Conclusion: Universally, residents have experienced reduced work hours and a reduction in their operative case volumes. Programs have adapted by increasing didactic time and using electronic platforms. It is quite possible that this remarkable period will prompt a critical reappraisal of the pre-COVID-19 adequacy of educational content in our training programs and that the enhanced educational efforts driven by this pandemic could be lasting.
Keywords: COVID-19; Education; Neurosurgery; Pandemic; Residency; Survey.
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