The COVID-19 pandemic has engendered rapid and significant changes in patient care. Within the realm of surgical training, the resultant reduction in clinical exposure and case volume jeopardizes the quality of surgical training. Thus, our general surgery residency program proceeded to develop a tailored approach to training that mitigates impact on resident surgical education and optimizes clinical exposure without compromising safety. Residents were engaged directly in planning efforts to craft a response to the pandemic. Following the elimination of elective cases, the in-house resident complement was effectively decreased to reduce unnecessary exposure, with a back-up pool to address unanticipated absences and needs. Personal protective equipment availability and supply, the greatest concern to residents, has remained adequate, while being utilized according to current guidelines. Interested residents were given the opportunity to work in designated COVID ICUs on a volunteer basis. With the decrease in operative volume and clinical duties, we shifted our educational focus to an intensive didactic schedule using a teleconferencing platform and targeted areas of weakness on prior in-service exams. We also highlighted critical COVID-19 literature in a weekly journal club to better understand this novel disease and its effect on surgical practice. The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on resident education remains to be seen. Success may be achieved with commitment to constant needs assessment in the changing landscape of healthcare with the goal of producing a skilled surgical workforce for public service.
Keywords: coronavirus; covid; education; safety; surgery; training.
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