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Background; To evaluate the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the national surgical residency program of Pakistan in terms of its effects on skill development, academics, research activities, and fellowship examination/assessment.
Material and methods; A 16 item validated survey was designed to conduct this cross-sectional study which was carried out in 3 tertiary care hospitals of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. Ethical approval was granted by institutional review board after formal piloting. The study included 169 residents from both general surgery and surgery-allied disciplines. Participants characteristics and Responses were analyzed using SPSS 25.0 and presented as percentages value of less than 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Before the pandemic, more than 80 % general surgery residents had frequent or occasional opportunities to engage in surgical activities as observer, assistant, dependent or independent performer. During pandemic these opportunities were less than 20 % and more than 75 % had rare or no such opportunities. Almost similar and statistically significant was the impact on the skills exposure opportunities for surgery-allied residents. 100 % general surgery residents and 98.9 % surgery-allied residents had frequent or occasional opportunities to attend academic ward rounds before the pandemic while 91 % general surgery residents and 80 % surgery allied residents had only rare or no opportunities to attend academic ward rounds. Data collection of 88.6 % general surgery residents and 80 % surgery allied residents were affected to more or less extent on the Likert scale. In both disciplines less than 15 % residents. Among the general surgery residents only 9 (11.4%) confident, and 1 (1.3%) very confident that the exam will take place in time despite the pandemic. These figures were 11.4% and 4.4 % only in surgery-allied discipline.
Conclusion: The COVID 19 pandemic has severely damaged all the pillars of surgical residency program in Pakistan. Residents think that they have lagged behind than they should have been at this stage of residency and are not sure of the months to come in prospect of their training. They feel insecure whether they will be able to complete their research projects in time or not. Moreover, they are not confident about the schedule of their module/exit exam.
Key-Words: Pandemic, residency, COVID,
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