Limited data exist about the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the training and clinical practice of young doctors. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact on paediatric gastroenterologists in training posts during the first wave of the European COVID pandemic.
All Young members of European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) (YE) members received a multiple-choice questionnaire concerning the impact (if any) on their clinical practice, mental health, quality of care provided and fellowship/training experience. The survey was conducted between May 22, 2020 and June 10, 2020.
Of the 144 responders (40% of YE members), 85% (n = 123) reported an impact of COVID-19. Ninety-six percent reported an impact on their clinical practice, including more virtual patient consultation (n = 91), underutilization of ambulatory care (n = 113) and reduced or lack of planned admissions (n = 75). Endoscopy restrictions to semi-urgent or emergency cases were reported in 82 and lack of medical equipment/drugs (n = 47) were also reported.
Reported adverse mental health issues included poor concentration, increased stress levels, an impact on family life in 62% and a reduced quality of care in 45%; this was more often reported in doctors from Southern Europe (54%) than in those from other geographical areas.
Seventy-seven percent reported an impact on the content of their fellowship, including lack of participation in national/international meetings, withdrawn research time and limited mentoring.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been shown to affect the clinical practice, training and mental health of YE members. Adaptations of training programmes and targeted strategies to improve the clinical practice of young practitioners are needed and proposed in this manuscript.