A potential positive that can come out of this is that it has expediated our learning curve on how we effectively educate residents, particularly in the virtual realm. —Brett Comer, MD, University of Kentucky
Explore This IssueJuly 2020
The good news is that residency experts say no, they don’t believe residents will be at a disadvantage because of the pandemic’s effect on their training.
“As far as competency is concerned, every program is responsible for assessing the graduating residents’ ability to practice independently at the conclusion of training,” said Dr. Gray. “This is even more important this year. Many residents will be entering fellowship at the conclusion of training. Fellowship directors will need to be sensitive to the fact that the incoming fellows might have less experience than what’s typical. It will be important to support new fellows this summer to make sure they’re confident and appropriately supervised.”
Those chief residents who are starting an independent comprehensive otolaryngology practice this July should also be provided with support and mentorship, she added. “The other members of the group should make themselves available for questions and concerns as new physicians ease into their practices.”
Others agree, saying their chief residents were already well trained before the pandemic hit.
“We feel that most of our residents have received excellent surgical training through PGY4 [post-graduate year 4], such that they use the chief resident year to hone their skills and get additional training in any areas where they feel they need extra work,” said Niels Kokot, MD, associate professor of clinical otolaryngology–head and neck surgery and the residency program director at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
“As such, all our graduating chief residents had met their surgical case minimums necessary to graduate prior to COVID shutdowns and are deemed competent to go into independent practice,” he said. “Our PGY4 residents have also met many of their case log minimums and have been operating daily since the end of March. I feel they should be able to complete their competencies as we slowly ramp up elective surgeries over the next couple of months. Beyond next year’s class of chief residents, it’s difficult to predict how COVID-19 will affect resident training,” he said.
And, despite missing out on a few months of otolaryngology graduate education, the lessons that have been learned will serve doctors well. “Keep in mind that we’re training physicians who will go out into a world where COVID-19 will continue to exist,” said Shannon Kraft, MD, associate professor and residency program director in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kan.