It is clear these are unprecedented times and the Dermatology SAC and BAD Education Board wish to extend support and encouragement to all Dermatology trainees and trainers. As priorities shift to the wider NHS, front-line working, and personal safety and well-being, it is recognised that Dermatology training will be disrupted. National and international training events have been cancelled or postponed. Further changes are underway, with cancellation of outpatient clinics, non-essential surgery lists, and the introduction of telephone consultations. Dermatology trainees and trainers may be shifted to front-line work.
Although specific details cannot be predicted at this time, trainees should be reassured that once the crisis has passed, we will all work together for pragmatic solutions whilst ensuring best care for patients, and the trainee voice will be heard.
Some relevant issues include:
Pregnancy: Pregnancy and maternity are one of the nine GMC protected characteristics. Current high-level guidance for pregnant doctors at work is under negotiation. However in the meantime, it is logical for pregnant trainees to be given priority for low-risk work where possible, for example telephone consultation work from home. If local facilities do not enable this, then low-risk work in hospital may be an option. Until higher level guidance is available, trainees should take local Deanery or Occupational Health advice. If you have concerns, speak with your Educational Supervisor to discuss these and develop a reasonable and safe plan of action.
Recruitment: The national Dermatology interviews took place in Manchester on 12 and 13 March for posts starting August 2020, but the interviews for other physicianly specialties which followed were subsequently cancelled. As all physicianly specialties are linked in a national selection process, it may be that the job placements for Dermatology will not be allocated until the entire process (currently on hold) is complete.
New Curriculum: The new Dermatology curriculum was due for submission to the GMC Curriculum Advisory Group (CAG) meeting in April, which has been cancelled. We now aim to submit for the CAG meeting in June.
Trainee Progression: Dermatology trainees, including those currently OOP, may be required to support the wider NHS, including front-line work. It is not possible to predict the impact this will have on an individual's Dermatology training progression, but please be reassured once the crisis has passed, solutions will be developed in a transparent and balanced manner, which will include the trainee's best interest. If OOP trainees get pulled for front-line work, they will also be supported for re-entry into their original post (e.g. research) once the crisis has passed.
In summary, these are uncertain and testing times. Updates will be provided for trainees and trainers as further information becomes available. It is important we work together as a professional community to support one another, and although not by choice, the upcoming challenges will undoubtedly create learning experiences for us all.
JRCPTB guidance on COVID and trainee progress: https://www.jrcptb.org.uk/news/covid-19-and-recognition-trainee-progression-2020
Academic guidance: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/clinical-academics-and-covid-19
You will also find Q&A twitter thread where Mike Jones answered questions regarding COVID-19 and its impact on training/trainees. The twitter handle is @JRCPTB