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COVID-19: lessons for junior doctors redeployed to critical care
  1. Charles Coughlan1,2,
  2. Chaitanya Nafde1,
  3. Shaida Khodatars1,
  4. Aimi Lara Jeanes1,
  5. Sadia Habib1,
  6. Elouise Donaldson1,
  7. Christina Besi1,
  8. Gurleen Kaur Kooner1
  1. 1 Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Charles Coughlan, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London W2 1NY, UK; charles.coughlan{at}


Approximately 4% of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU). Governments have cancelled elective procedures, ordered new ventilators and built new hospitals to meet this unprecedented challenge. However, intensive care ultimately relies on human resources. To enhance surge capacity, many junior doctors have been redeployed to ICU despite a relative lack of training and experience. The COVID-19 pandemic poses additional challenges to new ICU recruits, from the practicalities of using personal protective equipment to higher risks of burnout and moral injury. In this article, we describe lessons for junior doctors responsible for managing patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 based on our experiences at an urban teaching hospital.

  • infectious diseases
  • adult intensive & critical care
  • medical education & training
  • respiratory infections

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  • Contributors CC conceived the article. All authors contributed personal reflections on their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked together to identify core lessons for other junior doctors. CC, CN, SH, SK, ED and CB wrote the first draft, which was critically revised for intellectual content by ALJ and GKK. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • 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; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study.