Navigating Uncertain Times: Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Trainees

Dear EMRA Members,

Will away rotations be canceled? Will graduation be delayed? Will virtual Grand Rounds attendance count toward requirements? Whether you’re a medical student, current resident, or recent graduate, there is inevitable fear and anxiety of what the future holds as the reach of COVID-19 impacts patient care and our training. Know that in this current climate, the health and well-being of our membership is at the forefront of our thinking. We will get through this together.

EMRA has been advocating for EM physicians-in-training of all stages, contacting relevant parties including the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), and Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORD). I hope the information below puts you at ease during this uncertain time.

My commitment to being available to all members stands; please email me directly at president@emra.org should you have any questions or concerns about your education, training, or future in emergency medicine. Our collective work at this moment in time is more critical now than ever. Thank you for all the ways in which you care for our community, our specialty, and for one another.

In your corner,

Hannah R. Hughes, MD, MBA
EMRA President

Medical Student Members

For students impacted by canceled clerkships: CORD’s Advising Students Committee in EM (ASC-EM) has proposed specific recommendations for EM program leadership, medical schools, and EM-bound medical students to consider for the upcoming application cycle. Read the full consensus statement here. Visit EMRA Match for Clerkships to keep abreast of available opportunities and program updates. (Be sure to toggle to “Clerkships” in the upper left corner.)

Resident Members

Patient care: EMRA firmly believes that EM residents should be able to see any patient who walks in the door. However, we acknowledge that containment strategies will be locally informed, and we encourage program directors to advocate for trainees as institutions balance public health and ED operations.

Regarding concerns about delayed graduation as a result of mandatory quarantines impacting resident hours: EMRA firmly believes that resident wellness is of the utmost priority; and extraordinary circumstances, outside of resident control, call for extraordinary solutions. ABEM’s Board of Directors is adhering to current policy, which allows for 6 weeks of leave of absence and/or vacation time. When residents have exhausted their time off but are subsequently quarantined, ABEM will address these cases on an individual basis. Residents should work directly with their Program Directors, who can contact ABEM directly by email at abem@abem.org for guidance. EMRA will remain in active communication with ABEM to advocate for solutions that protect residents.

Will asynchronous learning serve as a substitute for conference time? Per the ACGME update at CORD Academic Assembly on March 10, 2020, asynchronous conference time that allows for bidirectional discussion can count toward conference attendance requirements. EMRA is actively seeking clarification if the amount of asynchronous learning time can exceed the current ACGME maximum of 20%.

Fellow & Alumni Members

On March 13, 2020, ABEM announced the cancellation of its Spring Oral Boards. Recognizing this impacts the Class of 2019 who were assigned either the Spring 2020 or Fall 2020 exam, ABEM is working on alternative scenarios and will post updates as plans are formalized. They want to assure graduates they will minimize disruptions in the examination timeline. ABEM encourages contacting them directly with individual questions at abem@abem.org.