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COVID pandemic disrupted pediatric residents’ education

January 1, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted pediatric residents’ education, procedural competence and preparation for senior roles.

In a survey of 110 pediatric residency directors from May-July 2020, most said bedside teaching, direct observations and/or in-person educational conferences were decreased or cancelled.

About 95% of the directors reported the pandemic negatively affected outpatient education, and 78% said it negatively affected inpatient education. In addition, 58% said the pandemic negatively affected procedural competence. Just under half said it negatively affected residents’ preparation for more senior roles.

While 36 continuity clinics are required, about one-quarter of directors said more than 75% of their residents would not reach that mark.

Directors stressed the need for communication and flexibility from governing bodies, sufficient in-person clinical exposure for residents and use of online platforms for education, communication and support.

“The long-term effect of so many missed core experiences remains to be seen, but if it recurs, PDs (program directors) may need to focus on creative augmentation or replacement of some of these experiences with alternative activities such as simulation or alternative practice sites,” authors wrote.

They also called on program directors to think differently about how they define, develop and support resident competence.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to rethink and redesign education to meet the changing, individualized needs of learners and patients,” they wrote. “This shift to competence based medical education may require more frequent, specific resident assessments to identify trainee gaps, tailored experiences to facilitate skill building in areas of identified gaps, and/or one-on-one coaching.”

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