The COVID-19 pandemic has forced medical professionals throughout the world to adapt to the changing medical scenario. The objective of this survey was to assess the change in neurosurgical training in India following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between May 7, 2020, and May 16, 2020, a validated questionnaire was circulated among neurosurgical residents across India by social media, regarding changes in the department’s functioning, patient interaction, surgical exposure, changes in academics, and fears and apprehensions associated with the pandemic. The responses were kept anonymous and were analyzed for changes during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to before the pandemic.
A total of 118 residents from 29 neurosurgical training programs across 17 states/union territories of the country gave their responses to the survey questionnaire. The survey revealed that the surgical exposure of neurosurgical residents has drastically reduced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from an average of 39.86 surgeries performed/assisted per month (median 30) to 12.31 per month (median 10), representing a decrease of 67.50%. The number of academic sessions has fallen from a median of 5 per week to 2 per week. The survey uncovered the lack of universal guidelines and homogeneity regarding preoperative COVID-19 testing. The survey also reveals reluctance toward detailed patient examinations since the COVID-19 outbreak. The majority of respondents felt that the COVID-19 pandemic will hamper their operative and clinical skills. Fear of rescheduling or deferring of licensing examinations was significantly higher among those closest to the examination (p = 0.002).
The adverse impact of the pandemic on neurosurgical training needs to be addressed. While ensuring the safety of the residents, institutes and neurosurgical societies/bodies must take it upon themselves to ensure that their residents continue to learn and develop neurosurgical skills during these difficult times.