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Northcraft H, Bai J, Griffin AR, Hovsepian S, Dobalian A. Association of the COVID-19 Pandemic on VA Resident and Fellow Training Satisfaction and Future VA Employment: A Mixed Methods Study. Journal of graduate medical education. 2022 Oct 1; 14(5):593-598.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic altered learning experiences of residents and fellows worldwide, including at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because the VA is the largest training provider in the United States, understanding VA trainee experiences is vital to understanding the pandemic's impact on graduate medical education nationwide. Additionally, understanding the pandemic's potential impacts on future employment allows for a better understanding of any future disruptions in the supply of physicians. Objective: To examine whether COVID-19 affected the satisfaction with VA training experiences and likelihood to consider future VA employment among residents and fellows. Methods: Responses from the VA Trainee Satisfaction Survey were collected for 3 academic years (2018-2021). Quantitative analysis (bivariate logistic regression) and qualitative content analysis were conducted to determine COVID-19's impact on satisfaction and likelihood of future VA employment. Results: Across 3 academic years, 17 900 responses from a total of 140 933 physician trainees were analyzed (12.7%). Following COVID-19, respondents expressed decreased satisfaction (84.58% vs 86.01%, = .008) and decreased likelihood to consider future VA employment compared to prior to the pandemic (53.42% vs 55.32%, = .013). COVID-19-related causes of dissatisfaction included the onboarding process, which slowed due to the pandemic, limited workspace that precluded social distancing, and reduced learning opportunities. Conclusions: Since the pandemic, physician trainees expressed decreased training satisfaction and decreased likelihood to seek future VA employment. Causes of dissatisfaction included increased difficulties with onboarding, further limitations to accessible workspaces, and the direct obstruction of learning opportunities including decreased patient volume or case mix.