In response to COVID-19, American medical centers have enacted elective case restrictions, markedly affecting the training of orthopaedic residents. Residencies must develop new strategies to provide patient care while ensuring the health and continued education of trainees. We aimed to describe the evolving impact of COVID-19 on orthopaedic surgery residents.
We surveyed five Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited orthopaedic residency programs within cities highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic about clinical and curricular changes. An online questionnaire surveyed individual resident experiences related to COVID-19.
One hundred twenty-one resident survey responses were collected. Sixty-five percent of the respondents have cared for a COVID-19-positive patient. One in three reported being unable to obtain institutionally recommended personal protective equipment during routine clinical work. All programs have discontinued elective orthopaedic cases and restructured resident rotations. Most have shifted schedules to periods of active clinical duty followed by periods of remote work and self-isolation. Didactic education has continued via videoconferencing.
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes to orthopaedic training; however, residents remain on the front lines of inpatient care. Exposures to COVID-19 are prevalent and residents have fallen ill. Programs currently use a variety of strategies to provide essential orthopaedic care. We recommend continued prioritization of resident safety and necessary training accommodations.