Purpose of review
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic prohibited Canadian medical students from in-person observerships. This may be particularly detrimental to under-represented groups that may consider surgical subspecialties. To address the unprecedented need for alternative surgical career exploration and diversity within the profession, The University of Toronto Cardiac Surgery Interest Group and Division of Cardiac Surgery collaborated on virtual experiential programming.
Medical students were invited to virtual (1) observerships of a cardiac bypass case, (2) mentorship sessions with surgeons, (3) resident teaching sessions, (4) multidisciplinary case-based Heart Team discussions to further their understanding of the scope of Cardiac surgery, and (5) a virtual coronary anastomosis training program. Additionally, a comprehensive virtual program was spearheaded to increase interest in Cardiac surgery among low-income Black high school students.
Trainee response to the virtual education, mentorship, and skill acquisition was positive. Trainees reported high levels of interest in the profession, particularly among females and under-represented minorities, supporting the principles of equity diversity, and inclusion in Cardiac surgery.