Adaptability and learning Intraprofessional collaboration of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic

C L Bus, R van der Gulden, M Bolk, J de Graaf, M van den Hurk, N N D Scherpbier-de Haan, C R M G Fluit, W Kuijer-Siebelink, N Looman

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    CONTEXT: The COVID-19 pandemic created a worldwide public health emergency, in which hospitals created new COVID departments and doctors from different disciplines had to work together. In the Netherlands, a large proportion of doctors in these departments were residents. With knowledge of the disease developing only gradually, the influx of COVID-19 patients called for adaptability, innovative work behavior, and intraprofessional collaboration (intraPC) between residents and between residents and medical specialists.

    RESEARCH GOAL: This study investigates how the delivery of COVID-19 care in hospital settings altered the way residents develop their sense of adaptability and intraPC during their training.

    METHODS: Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with residents and medical specialists from various disciplines who worked at a COVID department or Intensive Care Unit (ICU) during the COVID pandemic in the Netherlands, focusing on adaptability and intraPC learning. Transcripts were analyzed using (thematic) template analysis.

    RESULTS: Four themes that influenced learning during COVID care were identified: collective uncertainty, social cohesion and a sense of safety, the need for adaptive performance and intraPC learning. During the first wave, collective uncertainty about the unknown disease and the continuation of the crisis urged residents to adapt in order to take care of patients with a disease that was as yet unknown. The combination of collective uncertainty, social cohesion and a sense of safety, and the presence of different disciplines in one department promoted residents' intraPC learning. However, intraPC learning was not always the matter of course due to the scope of the crisis and the huge numbers of new patients.

    CONCLUSION: Collective uncertainty affected the residents' adaptability. The combination of collective uncertainty, social cohesion, and the presence of different disciplines in one department promoted the residents' intraPC learning. An important facilitating factor for both adaptability and intraPC learning is a high level of social cohesion and safety. The physical and psychological proximity of supervisors is an important factor contributing to a safe learning environment. This study provides implications for practice for learning during postgraduate training in non-crisis settings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number782
    Number of pages10
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 12-Nov-2022


    • Humans
    • COVID-19/epidemiology
    • Pandemics
    • Education, Medical, Graduate
    • Internship and Residency
    • Learning

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