The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic extends beyond patient care and healthcare resource utilization to medical education; nevertheless, the impact of COVID-19 on training quality and trainee perceptions has yet to be investigated. A study determined how involved interventional pulmonology (IP) fellows were in the care of COVID-19 and how that affected their clinical education, procedural skills, and job search after graduation. An internet-based survey was validated and disseminated to IP fellows in the North American fellowship training program. Researchers completed the survey by 38 (95%) of the 40 eligible fellows. The majority of fellows (76%) said they were involved in the care of COVID-19 patients. Fellows in the Northeast were more likely than those in other regions to be involved in the care of COVID-19 patients (median, 30 [interquartile range, 20–50] vs. 10 [5–13], respectively; P<0.01). During COVID-19, 52% of fellows reported being redeployed outside of IP, largely to intensive care units. Compared to pre–COVID-19 volume, the volume of IP procedures reduced by 21% during COVID-19.
The decline was primarily due to a decrease in bronchoscopies. With the move from face-to-face to telehealth-predominant format, most fellows (82%) reported keeping outpatient clinics during COVID-19. 86% and 82% of fellows said they continued their academic and research pursuits during COVID-19, respectively. All of the fellows said they were able to find work after graduation. Although IP fellows were heavily involved in the care of COVID-19 patients, most IP programs continued to offer educational opportunities during the outbreak. The influence of a reduction in procedure volume on trainee competency should be considered by Researchers in each training program individually. These findings could help focus efforts on medical trainee education amid current and future healthcare crises.