PurposeGraduate medical and research training has drastically changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread implementation of virtual learning, redeployment from core rotations to the care of patients with COVID-19, and significant emotional and physical stressors. The specific experience of hematology-oncology (HO) fellows during the COVID-19 pandemic is not known.
MethodsWe conducted a mixed-methods study using a survey of Likert-style and open-ended questions to assess the training experience and well-being of HO fellows, including both clinical and postdoctoral trainee members of the American Society of Hematology and ASCO.
ResultsA total of 2,306 surveys were distributed by e-mail; 548 (23.8%) fellows completed the survey. Nearly 40% of fellows felt that they had not received adequate mental health support during the pandemic, and 22% reported new symptoms of burnout. Pre-existing burnout before the pandemic, COVID-19-related clinical work, and working in a primary research or nonclinical setting were associated with increased burnout on multivariable logistic regression. Qualitative thematic analysis of open-ended responses revealed significant concerns about employment after training completion, perceived variable quality of virtual education and board preparation, loss of clinical opportunities to prepare for independent clinical practice, inadequate grant funding opportunities in part because of shifting research priorities, variable productivity, and mental health or stress during the pandemic.
ConclusionHO fellows have been profoundly affected by the pandemic, and our data illustrate multiple avenues for fellowship programs and national organizations to support both clinical and postdoctoral trainees.