The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cardiac Electrophysiology Training: A Survey Study

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2020 Nov 4. doi: 10.1111/jce.14805. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in a significant decrease in volume of electrophysiology (EP) procedures. There has been concern that trainees may not achieve the procedural numbers required to graduate as independent electrophysiologists within the usual timeline. We sought to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the percentage of clinical cardiac EP (CCEP) fellows in jeopardy of not meeting procedural volume requirements and overall sentiments regarding preparedness of fellows for independent practice.

Methods: We surveyed CCEP fellows and program directors about baseline procedural volumes, curriculum changes due to the pandemic, and attitudes about preparedness for board examinations and independent practice.

Results: Ninety-nine fellows and 27 program directors responded to the survey. Ninety-eight percent of responding fellows reported a decrease in procedural volume as a result of the pandemic. Program directors reported an overall decrease in annual number of ablations and device procedures performed by each fellow during the 2019-2020 academic year compared to the preceding year. Despite this, a minority of fellows and program directors reported concerns about meeting Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education procedural requirements for devices (9% and 4%, respectively) and ablation (19% and 9%) or preparedness for independent practice after a 2-year fellowship.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a decrease in procedural volume for CCEP trainees, but the majority of fellows and program directors do not anticipate major barriers to timely graduation. This may change with COVID-19 resurgence and further interruptions in training.

Keywords: COVID-19; clinical cardiac electrophysiology; fellowship training.