Effect of COVID-19 on Surgical Training Across the United States: A National Survey of General Surgery Residents

18 Aug, 2020

Introduction

COVID-19 emerged as a global pandemic in 2020 and has affected millions of lives. Surgical training has also been significantly affected by this pandemic, but the exact effect remains unknown. We sought to perform a national survey of general surgery residents in the United States to assess the effect of COVID-19 on surgical resident training, education, and burnout.

Methods

An anonymous online survey was created and distributed to general surgery residents across the United States. The survey aimed to assess changes to surgical residents’ clinical schedules, operative volume, and educational curricula as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, we sought to assess the impact of COVID-19 on resident burnout.

Results

One thousand one hundred and two general surgery residents completed the survey. Residents reported a significant decline in the number of cases performed during the pandemic. Educational curricula were largely shifted toward online didactics. The majority of residents reported spending more time on educational didactics than before the pandemic. The majority of residents feared contracting COVID-19 or transmitting it to their family during the pandemic.

Conclusions

COVID-19 has had significant impact on surgical training and education. One positive consequence of the pandemic is increased educational didactics. Online didactics should continue to be a part of surgical education in the post-COVID-19 era. Steps need to be taken to ensure that graduating surgical residents are adequately prepared for fellowship and independent practice despite the significantly decreased case volumes during this pandemic. Surgery training programs should focus on providing nontechnical clinical training and professional development during this time.




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