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TOPIC: COVID-19, What's going to happen to my fellowship?

COVID-19, What's going to happen to my fellowship? 1 month 4 weeks ago #38345

It seems like many hospitals are not doing elective cases right now and won't be for the foreseeable future. I'm starting my fellowship this summer in sports and if COVID-19 isn't contained by then, what happens with all of our fellowships? Would our fellowships be canceled if they can't provide the educational experience/training we signed up for? I would equate this to matching into a spine fellowship and having a department lose all of it's spine attendings before you get there. One would think they'd have to cancel your fellowship because they can't provide you with the education that they promised. Obviously, fellowships in trauma, etc could still provide excellent training, but fellowships that are heavily elective surgery based wouldn't have an appropriate volume/experience for advanced trainees.

Is it possible we would still be obligated by the ACGME, etc to go only to get redeployed to run medicine services or COVID surge units? This would seem pretty unfair to the trainee since you are foregoing an attending position and salary to further your education only to end up getting a trainee's salary, increased exposure risk to coronavirus, and worst of all, not even receiving the additional training you were promised. I know this sounds like a worst case scenario, but it's definitely not impossible that we could end up there. This situation is obviously not the same as that of a resident's. They obviously need to complete their training before going into practice. We as fellows could technically be in practice already so it doesn't seem appropriate that programs would expect you to show up and deal with all the above mentioned downsides if they're not going to be able to do elective cases.

I don't mean to be overly pessimistic, but I would love to hear what other current chief residents in this same position think.
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COVID-19, What's going to happen to my fellowship? 1 month 2 weeks ago #38350

Relax.

My take on this is that most hospitals will resume normal elective procedures by mid-May or June, at the latest. Hospitals (and businesses) cannot afford to shut down. Not everyone is going to die and require care. I'm willing to bet that most of us (and the general population) have already been infected with it.

Ortho is the last specialty that is called upon to help for Covid. They're not going to pull an ortho fellow to help - that would be nonsense.
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COVID-19, What's going to happen to my fellowship? 1 month 1 week ago #38351

Though I do agree that this may eventually improve, there is no clear end in sight and I have some serious concerns as stated by the OP. I have reached out to my future fellowship director and everything is very much up in the air so far. HSS sports fellows for example (a less qualified group than perhaps any) working shifts on COVID floors. I may try to arrange alternatives to this as the location where I matched for fellowship is particularly hard hit by this.
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COVID-19, What's going to happen to my fellowship? 1 month 4 days ago #38356

I agree that things will likely improve and seem to have already improved somewhat. However, as most people estimate, a 2nd or even 3rd spike of COVID cases is certainly possible.

My understanding is that it is not only the HSS sports fellows that have been redeployed but others as well. While I recognize that NYC is at one extreme of the pandemic, it's definitely not inconceivable that the redeployment of fellows could start happening elsewhere in the country as well, if it hasn't already.

I haven't reached out to my fellowship director yet as I expect they're likely adopting a let's wait and see approach at this stage. However, I do hope that if this continues into the summer that my fellowship program as well as the ACGME/specialty societies as a whole have given some thought to the impact of COVID on fellowship training and have plans in place to address these issues.
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