Impact of COVID-19 on ophthalmology residency training - can it be swept under the rug? : Kerala Journal of Ophthalmology

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Letter to the Editor

Impact of COVID-19 on ophthalmology residency training - can it be swept under the rug?

Singh, Anubhav; Sainath, Dipika1; Paul, Anujeet2,

Author Information
Kerala Society of Ophthalmic Surgeons 35(1):p 117-118, Jan–Apr 2023. | DOI: 10.4103/kjo.kjo_1_23
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Dear Editor,

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and altered the way residency training is imparted. Online webinars to substitute clinical learning and wet labs to substitute surgical training have been adopted by institutions to mitigate the losses from hands-on clinical and surgical exposure for residents.[1,2] Amongst this, the losses incurred by the 2019 batch of admitted residents, in particular, have arguably been the most detrimental with 18 months of a 36-month training period clashing with the pandemic (March 2020 to September 2021, the waning of the second wave).[3]

With this forethought, we circulated an online questionnaire via Google Forms to all the 2019 batch of Ophthalmology residents (who have taken their final MS/DNB examinations between April and June 2022) with relevant questions about their perception of their current clinical and surgical training status, the effect of COVID-19 on their residency training and overall mental health. The questionnaire was distributed in the eight medical colleges and training institutes in Pondicherry. No personal details or identity were asked to ensure accurate reporting.

Out of a total of 38 residents, 35 responded to the questionnaire. Among the respondees, 71% (n = 25) were females, while 29% (n = 10) were males. A staggering 80% (n = 28) and 75% (n = 26) of residents felt that COVID-19 affected their clinical and surgical training respectively in some way. Meanwhile, 88.5% (n = 31) felt that mitigative measures like online webinars were of benefit to them [Figure 1]. However, in this regard, a considerable 57.5% (n = 20) residents are fearful of a prolonged training period post-residency and 71.5% (n = 25) feel a dip in their confidence owing to a loss in clinical and surgical exposure, 51.5% (n = 18) attributing it solely to the pandemic.

F1
Figure 1:
(a) Residents response to COVID 19 affecting clinical and surgical training. (b) Pie chart representation of benefits with online webinar in residency training

Though the limitations of a self-reported questionnaire are applicable, the aftermath of COVID-19 and its domino effect, particularly impacting the mental health of residents cannot be overlooked. Institutions conducting further training, are urged to consider this aspect and incorporate facilities and opportunities for further teaching to continue the high standard of Ophthalmic care.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

REFERENCES

1. Paul A, Nagarajan S, Making the most of limited resources in wet-lab training during COVID-19. Indian J Ophthalmol 2022;70:351.
2. Mishra D, Bhatia K, Verma L, Essentials of setting up a wet lab for ophthalmic surgical training in COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Ophthalmol 2021;69:410.
3. Paul A, Sainath D, Nagarajan S, Rajalakshmi A, Two brutal waves of COVID-19:Where does ophthalmology residency training stand?. Indian J Ophthalmol 2021;69:2547.
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