Introduction - There is limited literature on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the wellbeing and training of junior doctors. The restructuring of rotas, redeployment of specialities and daily risk of COVID-19 exposure is likely to have had a significant impact on frontline doctors.
Aim - To understand the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and training of junior doctors at a tertiary, London Hospital.
Methods - A mixed-methods study was undertaken with an initial online survey three weeks after the peak of the COVID-19 surge; followed by a series of focus groups.
Results - Of 541 junior doctors, 161 responded to the questionnaire, and 10 participated in focus group sessions Over a third (34%; n=47) were concerned about the risk to personal health, 71% (n=102) had impaired sleep and many changed their lifestyles to adapt. Almost 40% felt the pandemic had an adverse impact on their careers, including their ability to complete training requirements, leading to an inevitable need to extend training. There was a reluctance to show or share any personal anxiety or vulnerability at work, hence participation in organised psychological support/ debrief sessions and online resources were considered unhelpful.
Conclusion - Employers need to recognise the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of doctors and implement strategies to effectively support staff. The development of safe, timely, and confidential psychological support strategies may be of benefit to doctors. National training leads will need to closely supervise training changes appreciating both the variation in expectations and adaption required across different specialities and grades.
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* Josef Salem & Lois Hawkins are joint first authors
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