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How COVID-19 inspired surgical residents to rethink educational programs

1 Nov, 2020
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused significant disruptions to education for surgical residents across the country. Residents have experienced reduced operative exposure, decreased time caring for hospitalized patients, and altered rotation schedules. A number of studies have been published since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic regarding the effect of the crisis on residents and resident education across fields including internal medicine, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery, and general surgery. These studies have described approaches taken by programs to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on education using alternative methods of clinical and structured learning.
Surgical residents have a unique perspective on the educational value of experiences on their development. Given the significant changes during the pandemic, we sought to determine surgical residents’ perceptions of education during this time and of possible changes to enhance residents’ educational experience and competency in the future. To do so, we conducted six virtual focus groups with 25 surgical residents at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  Focus group methodology was chosen to provide participants the opportunity to explore their experiences during the pandemic and compare those experiences with peers in an open-ended fashion. The focus groups were held in a region with an active shelter-in-place order. However, none of the affiliated hospitals became resource-constrained based on COVID-19 admissions.
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