AMA releases calls for protections for medical residents on pandemic's front lines

Residents and fellow physicians caring for patients on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis should have adequate access to personal protective equipment as well as appropriate training and supervision, the American Medical Association (AMA) said in new guidance released Wednesday. 

Further, the new doctors should not be required to take salary cuts or use vacation time in the event they have to quarantine or stay home sick due to COVID-19 and should also be candidates for hazard pay in a way that is equitable to other healthcare workers, AMA's guidance for residency programs and sponsoring institutions during the pandemic says. 

The new guidance is aimed at helping residency programs address the personal, physical and economic stresses residents and fellows are facing.

There are approximately 135,000 residents and fellow physicians in the U.S.

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“As part of their training, residents and fellows across the country are being heavily relied upon as essential front-line care givers during the COVID-19 pandemic—often assuming roles that aren’t typical to residency training. It is vitally important that residency programs and sponsoring institutions are taking action to ensure these physicians-in-training are kept safe and supported personally and financially throughout the course of the pandemic,” said AMA President Patrice Harris, M.D., in a statement.

With many residents and some fellow physicians working in roles outside of their specialty and subspecialty training, the guidance also calls for residency programs to provide compensation and malpractice coverage commensurate with their newly defined roles and ensure they are assessed on and receive credit for this work as part of their training requirements, officials said.