Vital Times 2021 - 77

SPECIAL FEATURES
Residents' View of Anesthesia
Training During the Pandemic
Kip Sawyer, MD
he COVID-19 pandemic
presented some
truly unprecedented
difficulties for anesthesia
residency programs and their
trainees, ranging from staffing
ICUs to meeting graduation
requirements, and securing
jobs. As signs of recovery begin
T
to grow brighter, I invited trainees from across California
to reflect back on the past two years. What follows is
compiled commentary from four anesthesia residents
who shared their thoughts with me, affording a look into
both shared challenges and the unique experiences that
evolved out of the pandemic at each institution.
The spread of COVID-19 quickly began to
affect the clinical experiences of trainees
in the spring of 2020. As with most
hospitals across California, surgical cases
were canceled, and anesthesia staff were
redeployed. An additional challenge for
academic facilities was the question of how
to best utilize residents, balancing a desire to
prioritize their safety while still appropriately
making use of their clinical abilities.
Robert Landon, MD, Loma Linda University:
During March 2020, the OR case volume decreased
in anticipation of a wave of COVID patients. However,
the total COVID case volume initially remained low. We
reopened and then were suddenly hit with a significant
number of patients in July 2020 and again in December
2020...our program even opened up an entirely attending/
resident anesthesiology intensive care unit team, and
many CA-1s returned to the internal medicine wards.
Taraz Nosrat, MD, University of California San Diego:
Fortunately, our program came out strong with PPE
for staff, and was an early institutor of universal
COVID testing for all patients for elective surgery. Our
department also came out with an early policy to have
attendings (the most experienced airway practitioner)
perform intubation on COVID-suspected or positive
patients to minimize exposure risk and time involved in
intubating.
Rebecca Morris, MD, Stanford University: Our
department made a deliberate decision to shield
residents from unnecessary exposure as much as
possible, forming a new 24/7 attending-only COVID
airway team and deciding that ICU attendings would
examine positive patients each day while allowing
the residents to manage from outside the room. This
practice could not have been maintained if the hospital
became overwhelmed, but that luckily did not come to
pass.
Daniel Salazar, MD, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center:
Many residents were redeployed from previously
assigned rotations to the COVID-19 ICU. Other
anesthesia members such as CRNAs were also
redeployed and served as critical care nurses. With
time, we learned more about COVID-19 spread and
residents were slowly incorporated into the emergency
airway team. Our department would hold the airway
Annual Publication 2021 | 77

Vital Times 2021

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