Challenges in the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia Fellowship Program Since the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: An Electronic Survey on Potential Solutions

M.R. El Tahan, K. Wilkinson, J. Huber, J.U. Schreiber, A.F. Forner, P. Diprose, F. Guarracino, G. Erdoes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: The authors explored the current practice of fellowship training in cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia and surveyed the acceptability of potential solutions to mitigate the interrupted fellowship training during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Design: A prospective electronic questionnaire-based survey. Setting: The survey was initiated by the Education Committee of the European Association of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (EACTAIC). Participants: The study comprised EACTAIC fellows, EACTAIC, and non-EACTAIC subscribers to the EACTAIC newsletter and EACTAIC followers on different social media platforms. Interventions: After obtaining the consent of participants, the authors assessed the perioperative management of COVID-19 patients, infrastructural aspects of the workplace, local routines for preoperative testing, the perceived availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the impact of COVID-19 on fellowship training. In addition, participants rated suggested solutions by the investigators to cope with the interruption of fellowship training, using a traffic light signal scale. Measurements and Main Results: The authors collected 193 responses from 54 countries. Of the respondents, 82.4% reported cancelling or postponing elective cases during the first wave, 89.7% had provided care for COVID-19 patients, 75.1% reported staff in their center being reassigned to work in the intensive care unit (ICU), and 45% perceived a shortage of PPE at their centers. Most respondents reported the termination of local educational activities (79.6%) and fellowship assessments (51.5%) because of the pandemic (although 84% of them reported having time to participate in online teaching), and 83% reported a definitive psychological impact. More than 90% of the respondents chose green and/ or yellow traffic lights to rate the importance of the suggested solutions to cope with the interrupted fellowship training during the pandemic. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of elective cases, the deployment of anesthesiologists to ICUs, the involvement of anesthesiologists in perioperative care for COVID-19 patients, and the interruption of educational activities and trainees' assessments. There is some consensus on the suggested solutions for mitigation of the interruption in fellowship training. (c) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Fellowship
  • survey
  • cardiothoracic and vascular anaesthesia
  • COVID-19

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