Maximizing Career Advancement During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Recommendations for Postgraduate Training Programs

Acad Med. 2021 Jan 19. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003938. Online ahead of print.


The ongoing novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created many threats as well as opportunities for the career development of physicians-in-training. Institutional responses to the demand for patient care reduced the time many residents have to pursue clinical electives, scholarship projects, and other experiences meant to clarify and advance their personal and professional goals. Moreover, many academic medical centers experienced profound fiscal losses that require thoughtful revisions to budgets and curricula. In this article, the authors recommend strategies for residency programs to mitigate these losses and capitalize on growth in virtual education, scholarship opportunities, and relationships arising from the pandemic. Drawing from career development guidelines from the National Career Development Association and existing literature about factors associated with positive career outcomes, the authors suggest leadership roles, curricula, and events that training programs can quickly and inexpensively implement to help residents grow as professionals, achieve personal training goals, produce scholarship, and attain future employment. To help trainees manage their careers, the authors recommend structured mentorship and education in career pathways and the preparation of job application materials. To foster attainment of specific knowledge and cultivate lifelong learning, the authors recommend leveraging existing resources to provide time, funding, academic coaching, and skills training for scholarship projects. To promote development of effective work relationships and community, the authors recommend appointment of a faculty champion for career advancement, scholarship showcases, attendance at virtual journal clubs, and networking through social media outlets. These recommendations for supporting career advancement may apply to early career faculty development as well as undergraduate and postgraduate medical education beyond the pandemic era. Outcomes studies will be needed to evaluate the impact of these recommendations.