Background - The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a transformation of clinical care practices to protect both patients and providers. These changes led to a decrease in patient volume, impacting physician trainee education due to lost clinical and didactic opportunities. We measured the prevalence of trainee concern over missed educational opportunities and investigated the risk factors leading to such concerns.
Methods - All residents and fellows at a large academic medical center were invited to participate in a web-based survey in May of 2020. Participants responded to questions regarding demographic characteristics, specialty, primary assigned responsibility during the previous 2 weeks (clinical, education, or research), perceived concern over missed educational opportunities, and burnout. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between missed educational opportunities and the measured variables.
Results - 22% (301 of 1375) of the trainees completed the survey. 47% of the participants were concerned about missed educational opportunities. Trainees assigned to education at home had 2.85 [95%CI 1.33–6.45] greater odds of being concerned over missed educational opportunities as compared with trainees performing clinical work. Trainees performing research were not similarly affected [aOR = 0.96, 95%CI (0.47–1.93)]. Trainees in pathology or radiology had 2.51 [95%CI 1.16–5.68] greater odds of concern for missed educational opportunities as compared with medicine. Trainees with greater concern over missed opportunities were more likely to be experiencing burnout (p = 0.038).
Conclusions - Trainees in radiology or pathology and those assigned to education at home were more likely to be concerned about their missed educational opportunities. Residency programs should consider providing trainees with research or at home clinical opportunities as an alternative to self-study should future need for reduced clinical hours arise.