The void: COVID-19 restrictions and junior doctor education opportunities

Med Teach. 2022 Jul 6;1-6. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2022.2093701. Online ahead of print.


Background: In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, the modes of hospital service delivery, education, training, and the context surrounding them has undergone enormous change and disruptions.

Objective: This study aimed to understand the 'lived-experience' of junior doctors in relation to their education, training, and professional development during the pandemic.

Methods: A qualitative study based on thematic and cohort narrative analysis. 20 junior doctors who trained at an Australian tertiary paediatric hospital during the time of COVID-19 restrictions were interviewed. Based on a phenomenological approach, the interviews examined junior doctors' experiences in relation to medical education, adaptive education styles and the value attributed by participants to different forms of education provided to them.

Results: Four overarching themes were identified regarding trainee perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on learning opportunities, both positive and negative. These were: 'The void' - learning expectations junior doctors felt were missed, education affordances, peers and networks, and professional identity.

Conclusion: The pace with which educators have adapted to new teaching modes should be harnessed to incite equally novel curriculum evolution, smart investment in clinical moments, reconnect learning communities and create robust virtual learning environments.

Keywords: COVID-19; Education medical; pediatric; training; training support.