By Adam J. Dann, DO
When asked the question, “What can I do today that I was not capable of 5 years ago?”, the knee jerk response is that it would have to be something pandemic related. It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world and altered the way we complete everyday tasks in monumental ways. Considering the original question, and how it relates to the pandemic-related changes in hand surgery, a similar question is raised: “What changes have I made because of the pandemic, that I would like to continue once the pandemic is over?” The two biggest are the institution of telemedicine, and the virtual interview option for residency and fellowship candidates.
I had never used any form of telemedicine prior to last spring. When we halted all elective surgeries, like so many others, we had to get creative in how we continued to provide care for the patients in our community. Having the technology available to have real-time face-to-face video encounters was invaluable during this period. It is something that has continued to show its value in situations outside of those related to the pandemic, such as patients with post-op concerns, patients who may be traveling long distances, or those who may have difficulty traveling out of their home environment. It conserves resources and maximizes convenience for the patient. In the field of hand surgery, where a majority of our physical exam can still be performed over live video encounters, it will definitely remain a tool in my armamentarium.
The Kettering Health Network Hand Fellowship here in Dayton had one of the later interview dates last spring, falling right as the pandemic was escalating. As such, we were one of the first programs to attempt virtual interviews over Zoom. In spite of these challenges, our interview day went exceedingly well and we received a lot of positive feedback from the interviewees. Since then we have held two interview dates for the orthopedic residency program, and one for the hand fellowship again this year. Although it takes creativity to really put your program on display virtually, it alleviates the significant time and financial burden placed on the fellowship and residency candidates during the interview season and should remain an option moving forward.