The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Graduate Medical Education: Lessons Learned and Pathways Forward

Acad Med. 2021 Nov 23. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004532. Online ahead of print.


In this article, the authors describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric graduate medical education (GME), including the impact on clinical experiences for trainees, teaching methods used, trainee wellness, GME leader wellness and support, and the traditional interview process. A thorough literature review was done to identify impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric graduate medical education. In addition, information was collected through Association of Pediatric Program Directors virtual cafes and conferences. Positive changes for graduate medical education from the COVID-19 pandemic included: the rapid transition to telehealth; asynchronous learning allowing for increased cross-program collaboration; innovative online teaching modalities; increased flexibility and decreased cost of online recruitment; and shared innovations across pediatric GME. Challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic included: decreased learning about common childhood illnesses, such as bronchiolitis, acute otitis media, and influenza; decreased patient volumes and patient complexity in clinics and inpatient wards, leading to less practice developing efficiency, time management, and triaging skills; and an increased burden on trainees, including moral distress and decreased support from one another and other social supports. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted important opportunities in U.S. educational systems. As medical educators move forward, it will be important to learn from these while mitigating the negative impacts.