Academics in the Pandemic: Early Impact of COVID-19 on Plastic Surgery Training Programs

Thomas N. Steele, Kshipra Hemal, Donald T. Browne, Darius Balumuka, Juliana E. Hansen, Lisa R. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted plastic surgery training in the United States, requiring unprecedented measures to prepare for potential surges in critically ill patients. This study investigates how plastic surgery programs responded to this crisis, as well as how successful these changes were, through a survey of program directors and of residents at academic training programs in the United States. Methods: Two separate anonymous online surveys were conducted via REDCap between April 16 and June 4, 2020. The first survey was distributed to program directors, and the second was distributed to plastic surgery residents. Resident responses were then subdivided for an analysis between geographic regions. Results: Of the 59 program director responses (43.7%), the majority of programs implemented a platoon approach for resident coverage. A minority did the same for attending coverage. In total, 92% transitioned to virtual didactics only. Plastic surgery residents covered alternative services at 25% of responding institutions, and an additional 68% had a plan in place for responding to personnel shortages. Overall, residents were satisfied with their program's response in a variety of categories. When subdivided based on geographic region, respondents in the Northeast and Northwest were less satisfied with resident wellness, personal and loved ones' safety, and program communication. Conclusions: With the possibility of a "second wave," successful methods of academic programs adapting to the pandemic should be communicated to reduce the future impact. Increased frequency of communications between program directors and residents can improve mental health and wellness of the resident population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E3320
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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