School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

A Multicenter Analysis of the Early Impact of COVID-19 on Junior Resident Operative Case Volume

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Institutions have reported decreases in operative volume due to COVID-19. Junior residents have fewer opportunities for operative experience and COVID-19 further jeopardizes their operative exposure. This study quantifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on resident operative exposure using resident case logs focusing on junior residents and categorizes the response of surgical residency programs to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Materials and methods

A retrospective multicenter cohort study was conducted; 276,481 case logs were collected from 407 general surgery residents of 18 participating institutions, spanning 2016-2020. Characteristics of each institution and program changes in response to COVID-19 were collected via surveys.


Senior residents performed 117 more cases than junior residents each year (P < 0.001). Prior to the pandemic, senior resident case volume increased each year (38 per year, 95% confidence interval 2.9-74.9) while junior resident case volume remained stagnant (95% confidence interval 13.7-22.0). Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, junior residents reported on average 11% fewer cases when compared to the three prior academic years (P = 0.001). The largest decreases in cases were those with higher resident autonomy (Surgeon Jr, P = 0.03). The greatest impact of COVID-19 on junior resident case volume was in community-based medical centers (246 prepandemic versus 216 during pandemic, P = 0.009) and institutions which reached Stage 3 Program Pandemic Status (P = 0.01).


Residents reported a significant decrease in operative volume during the 2019 academic year, disproportionately impacting junior residents. The long-term consequences of COVID-19 on junior surgical trainee competence and ability to reach cases requirements are yet unknown but are unlikely to be negligible.


© 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

J Surg Res



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