An assessment of the long-term impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on academic neurosurgery

Tessa A. Harland, Julie G. Pilitsis, Nathan R. Selden, Deborah L. Benzil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to survey residents, fellows, and residency program leadership to assess the long-term impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on residency training by using a structured survey methodology. METHODS: A survey was distributed to US neurosurgical residents and fellows (n = 2085) as well as program directors (PDs) and chairs (n = 216) in early 2022. Bivariate analysis was performed to identify factors associated with a decreased likelihood of pursuing a career in academic neurosurgery because of the pandemic, a perception that surgical skills preparation was negatively impacted, personal financial concerns, and a preference for remote education. Significant differences in the bivariate analysis underwent further multivariate logistic regression analysis to evaluate for predictors of these outcomes. RESULTS: An analysis of complete surveys from 264 residents and fellows (12.7%) and 38 PDs and chairs (17.6%) was performed. Over half of the residents and fellows (50.8%) believed that their surgical skills preparation was negatively impacted by the pandemic, and a notable proportion believed that they were less likely to go into academics because of the pandemic's impact on their professional (20.8%) and personal (28.8%) life. Those less likely to pursue academics were more likely to report that work-life balance did not improve (p = 0.049), personal financial concerns increased (p = 0.01), and comradery among residents (p = 0.002) and with faculty (p = 0.001) did not improve. Residents who indicated they were less likely to go into academics were also more likely to have been redeployed (p = 0.038). A large majority of PDs and chairs indicated that the pandemic resulted in financial setbacks for their departments (71.1%) and institutions (84.2%), with 52.6% reporting reduced faculty compensation. Financial setbacks at the institutional level were associated with a worsened opinion of hospital leadership (p = 0.019) and reports of a reduced quality of care for non-COVID-19 patients (p = 0.005) but not from faculty member losses (p = 0.515). A plurality of trainees (45.5%) reported a preference for a remote format for educational conferences compared to 37.1% who disagreed. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a cross-section of the pandemic's impact on academic neurosurgery, highlighting the importance of continued efforts to assess and address the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for US academic neurosurgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1741-1747
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • academic
  • career
  • education
  • neurosurgery
  • residents
  • training


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