COVID-19 impact on PGT in Europe

Authors: Shruti Sharma, Ellen McCourt, Mathias Körner

Presented at: AMEE Lyon 2022 Conference, 30 August 2022.

COVID 19 disrupted and altered everyday life across the globe; healthcare systems overnight had to change the way they worked. Hospitals had to reallocate resources to be able to care for COVID-patients and reduce planned activity. In result junior doctors across Europe experienced disruptions to the postgraduate training (PGT).
Summary Of Work
Between 2020 and 2022 the European junior doctors (EJD) association surveyed member organisations regarding the impact of Covid-19 on postgraduate training. Qualitative information was gathered, and recurrent themes established.
Summary Of Results
16 European nations were represented in the EJD survey. 88% reported at the onset of the pandemic that Covid-19 had a negative impact on PGT, although after a year only 6 delegations reported that training in its entirety was postponed. 87% of nations reported that junior doctors had been redeployed from their usual place of work to care for covid patients; 50% of delegations reported working beyond their rostered hours and beyond EWTD. Delegations reported delays to allocation of specialism, postponement of exit exams, and cancelling of mandatory courses or being converted to online courses.
Discussion And Conclusion
The level of disruption to PGT caused by the response to the Covid-19 pandemic varied across European nations, and where disruption occurred the response by educators and employers was inconsistent. Although a number of European nations have examples of focused individualised solutions to missed training, this was by no mean universal and, despite multiple waves of the pandemic, some junior doctors still had no access to mitigations for lost training and were keen for these best practices to be shared and replicated across Europe. The increased use of digital and online meetings, courses and classes have proved somewhat effective, but will not in its entirety be able to replace physical events in terms of the learning experience.
Take Home Messages
Excellent PGT is indivisible from excellent healthcare. It is essential that the Covid-19 pandemic, or future pandemics, don’t create a deficit in PGT for coming generations of doctors, as this in turn will impact the quality of healthcare.