Prioritizing resident and patient safety while maintaining educational value: emergency restructuring of a Canadian surgical residency program during COVID-19

Prioritizing resident and patient safety while maintaining educational value: emergency restructuring of a Canadian surgical residency program during COVID-19

Can J Surg 2020;63(3):E302-E305 | PDF

Nada Gawad, MD, MAEd; Chelsea Towaij, MD; Tommy Stuleanu, MD; Carlos Garcia-Ochoa, MD; Lara J Williams, MD, MSc

Summary

Surgical programs are facing major and fluctuating changes to the resident workforce because of decreased elective volumes and high exposure risk during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Rapid restructuring of a residency program to protect its workforce while maintaining educational value is imperative. We describe the experience of the Division of General Surgery at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. The residency program was restructured to feature alternating “on” and “off” weeks, maintaining a healthy resident cohort in case of exposure. Teams were restructured and subdivided to maximize physical distancing and minimize resident exposure to pathogens. Educational initiatives doubled, with virtual sessions targeting every resident year and incorporating intraoperative teaching. The divisional research day and oral exams proceeded uninterrupted, virtually. A small leadership team enabled fast and flexible restructuring of a system for patient care while prioritizing resident safety and maintaining a commitment to resident education in a pandemic.


Accepted May 11, 2020

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge Danielle Doan, program administrator, for her instrumental help with the logistics of moving educational initiatives to a virtual platform and Dr. Isabelle Raiche, the competency by design and simulation lead, for spearheading the increase in resident teaching, particularly with the unique incorporation of weekly intraoperative teaching.

Affiliations: From the Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.

Competing interests: L. Williams reports receiving authorship royalties from UpToDate. No other competing interests were declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.006120

Correspondence to: L. Williams, The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, 305-737 Parkdale Ave, Ottawa ON K1Y 4E9, larwilliams@toh.ca