Effective relationships and partnership structures served PGME well in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine (COFM), we worked closely with the provincial regulators and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to ensure that residents and fellows could safely undertake redeployment and/or continue into practice even though certification examinations were deferred. Internal redeployment was managed actively through the education subcommittee of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSNe). We collaborated with the national certifying Colleges to ensure modified curricula and experiential learning would not compromise learner progress. PGME also partnered with external providers and through the generosity of the Temerty Foundation was able to cover costs for learners requiring self-isolation due to work and who had at-risk family members at home.
COVID-19 presented many challenges to our clinical educational environment and beyond. Our acute response involved a three-phase redeployment plan guided by Principles for Redeployment and Procedural Memo developed in collaboration with our hospital partners. At the onset of the pandemic, dialogue was solution focused and many programs depended on internal redeployments; developing centralized cross-divisional and/or creative approaches as our trainees moved into isolation and quarantine. The departments of Medicine and Anesthesia proactively reallocated their residents to support and bolster ICUs. Surgery and Family Medicine departments also provided additional support where possible. In anticipation of a second wave and with an increase in clinical activity, PGME developed a balanced and systematic approach for phase two of the redeployment.
As part of a larger redeployment strategy, PGME worked collaboratively with program directors to identify availability of residents for each block of the 2020-2021 academic year. With this proactive groundwork, the rotating redeployment roster has been effective in addressing needs as they arise. As we navigate this new normal, flexibility and adaptability has been critical.