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Medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from UK trainees
  1. Jason Yuen1,
  2. Fangyi Xie2
  1. 1 South West Neurosurgery Centre, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2 Department of Dermatology, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jason Yuen, Department of Neurosurgery, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH, UK; jasonyuen1{at}

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented disruptions to medical training. In this article, we will share two UK trainees’ perspectives on this.

Widespread interruptions to medical education are seen throughout history. At times of major conflicts, the quality of training suffers as a result.1 2 For example, during the blitz, students and newly qualified interns were distributed to areas of need.2 Also during World War II, certain American medical schools shortened their postgraduate degree programme from 4 years to 3 years to address doctor shortages.3 The UK government has adopted this to a degree, where final-year students were encouraged to start their Foundation Programme early.4

Despite the disruptions, there are always silver linings. After the two world wars, there have been radical reforms in the medical education system, leading to improvement of the curricula and intake,5 including an increase in women admissions to medical schools.6

The current pandemic is comparable to the other historical events, with major challenges to the National Health Service. Also, due to the drastic reduction in elective surgery and routine work, traditional learning opportunities have become scarcer. Many outpatient clinics have switched toward teleclinics and tele-triaging. Trainers have increasing demands on their time as they adapt to different ways of working. Even within a department, social distancing …

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  • Contributors JY conceived the main ideas for the article and wrote the first draft. FX also provided important ideas and proof-read the draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.