Residency training in the time of COVID-19: A framework for academic medical centers dealing with the pandemic

Perspect Med Educ. 2020 Oct 9;1-6. doi: 10.1007/s40037-020-00622-z. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: As cases of COVID-19 climb worldwide, academic medical centers (AMCs) are scrambling to balance the increasing demand for medical services while maintaining safe learning environments. The scale and nature of the current pandemic, limitations on key resources, risks of transmission, and the impact on trainee wellbeing pose additional challenges to AMCs. We propose a framework for AMCs to utilize in facilitating health system, organization and program-level adjustments to meet the needs of medical trainees during the pandemic.

Approach: In February 2020, we developed a three-level approach to the pandemic response of training programs at our AMC. The first level involved AMC alignment and engagement with regulatory stakeholders. The second level utilized the graduate medical education committee and leveraged organizational functions such as human resources, finance, and clinical departments. The third level of intervention focused on common approaches used by programs to ensure continuity of learning in the context of dynamic changes in workflows and service operations.

Evaluation: Outcomes at each level are reported. These include the co-development of a national framework on medical trainee responses to COVID-19, the composition of an operational guidance document, organizational protocols to accommodate novel challenges posed by the pandemic, and multiple program-level interventions.

Reflection: This methodical approach, employed during a global crisis, was critical in facilitating interventions required to fulfill the mission of AMCs. Future steps include assessing the impact of these changes on trainee performance and the applicability of the approach in diverse settings.

Keywords: Academic health center; Academic medical center; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Graduate medical education; International medical education; Pandemic.