By Lawal Qudus Olajide
COVID-19: Implications on the residency programme
By Lawal Qudus Olajide
The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has virtually transformed our world as we know it, with the revolution of the earth around its axis, apparently the only unchanged phenomenon. Within six months, the virus has left us all with no options than to live the new normal.
“Within six months, the virus has left us all with no options than to live the new normal.”
The residency program designed to produce specialists to confront diseases and infirmities is not immune to these effects. Various aspects of the program have been variably affected with some being threats while others are opportunities.
The most obvious is the ticking of time while the training program is literally on pause. Postgraduate medical college examinations have been placed on indefinite suspension, trainees can’t proceed with requisite outside postings, while others have been mobilized as volunteers for COVID 19 control programs. This situation will no doubt have an impact on the fixed exit date from the training program by the current cohort of Resident doctors- a challenge that needs to be addressed.
Infection Control and Prevention(IPC) will play a central role in training, clinical practice, as well as examinations. The colleges may likely enforce the use of facemasks at exam venues. It would be, however, challenging to implement social distancing in the often-crowed examination halls, especially during the computer-based tests.
“Infection Control and Prevention(IPC) will play a central role in training, clinical practice, as well as examinations.”
The use of mannequins will likely play more major roles in subsequent exams as part of IPC measures. Candidates will be expected to familiarize themselves with the challenges and limitations of examination with mannequins
Regular case reviews are a core component of residency training that has been rendered impossible because of social distancing rules in recent times. Virtual meetings have been incorporated to circumvent this problem, and this may be a new normal post-COVID-19 era. The increasing use of virtual meetings also presents an opportunity to have international collaborations with lead experts from different part of the world.
Several local and international webinars are held daily, which improves the exposure and quality of residents’ training. The postgraduate colleges may also be forced to organize their regular intensive training courses via virtual means.
Going forward, in adjusting to the new normal, possible ways forward may include the provision of high-quality Wi-Fi services to ease the burden of poor quality network reception and unbearable cost of browsing on trainees. This is to enable residents to optimize the opportunities inherent in these virtual meetings.
The practice of telemedicine, which hitherto is very rudimentary in the country, may benefit from the great leap in the use of digital technology in medicine and thereby creating new frontiers for training and specialization.
In all, this period of apparent lull in the residency training provides an ample time for trainers in various centres to review their programs to improve the quality of specialists being produced to cater to the health needs of the populace.
Dr Lawal Qudus Olajide is a Resident Doctor at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State. He is an active member of the Research Collaboration Network(RCN) of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors(NARD).