Unanticipated impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgical research residents
Michael Poulson MD1,2, Naomi Sell MD3, Allan Stolarski MD1,2, Katherine He MD1,4, Edward Whang MD1,4, Gentian Kristo MD1,4.
1Department of Surgery, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; 2Department of Sur¬gery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; 3Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 4Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Background: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experience of surgical research residents remains undetermined.
Methods: An anonymous web-based survey was distributed between 4/26/2020 and 5/3/2020 to all current general surgery research residents from four academic medical centers in Boston, MA. Interviews were also conducted with principal research investigators from participating institutions.
Results: A total of 40 of 63 research residents participated in our survey (63.5% response rate). Their most significant coronavirus-related concern was the interruption of research projects (3.77/5), followed by cancellations of scientific meetings (3.67/5), the inability to finish research projects before going back to clinical residency training (3.33/5), the negative impact of social distancing on their ability to conduct their research (3.33/5), decreases in the number of publications (3.13/5), financial difficulties due to the inability to moonlight (2.67/5), being asked to work on projects not related to their main area of research interest (2.64/5), and uncertainty about research funding (2.05/5). While most interviewed principal research investigators (85.7% [12/14]) did not report a decrease in their current research funding, all of them anticipate future funding difficulties given the current inability to generate the data necessary for new grant applications.
Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the research productivity and quality of life of general surgery research residents. Therefore, comprehensive interventions are needed to improve the experience of research residents during healthcare emergencies.
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