The University of North Carolina Nephrology training program understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on education. As we navigate the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that many of our applicants have questions regarding fellowship applications and educational experiences. We are committed to providing the best interview and fellowship experience.
- How do you envision the interview experience in 2021?
UNC Nephrology, along with the entire Department of Medicine, is conducting virtual interviews for the 2021 match (fellowship starting July 2022). Applicants will meet faculty and fellows virtually on Zoom and WebEx. Our goal is to provide opportunities for candidates from different areas to have equitable access during the application process while maintaining social distance.
- How is UNC managing inpatient fellow activity during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The main impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the inpatient experience has been the implementation of safety measures to keep physicians, hospital staff, and patients safe. UNC had our own SARS-CoV-2 PCR assay and was testing before most centers in the United States. We have tested for all Persons Under Investigation (PUI) since late March of 2020, and have tested all admissions since June 15, 2020. All patients undergoing procedures and operations are tested within 48 hours of the scheduled procedure. We have the luxury of more personal protective equipment than required and we have sufficient face shields for all clinicians. Hospital care has been organized such that there are COVID positive areas and COVID negative areas. N95 masks, gowns, and face shields are required in the areas providing care for COVID patients. Surgical loop masks and face shields are employed in non-COVID areas. All patients are required to wear masks during clinical encounters. Our nephrology fellows on inpatient services have a separate workroom with sufficient space to maintain 6 feet distancing from others. This area is routinely cleaned, and fellows are supplied with surgical masks and face shields/goggles during patient care activity.
- How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the clinic and outpatient dialysis workflow for the fellows?
Most of our patient visits have transitioned to in-person visits. However, we are able to continue a mixture of in-person and virtual visits based on patient need. Fellows are rounding in the outpatient dialysis units with attending nephrologists where they are provided with PPE. There are separate COVID and PUI shifts for our dialysis patients.
- How are the different conferences being held?
All our conferences including Nephrology and Medicine Grand Rounds, journal clubs, and fellow conferences are conducted virtually using WebEx and Zoom. However, we anticipate transitioning to a mixed format of in-person and virtual conference.
- How has UNC addressed the emotional impact of COVID-19 in their trainees?
We are committed to preventing burnout and providing our trainees with resources for their emotional well-being. UNC offers a unique program, taking care of our own (TCOOO), which is an integrated program designed to encourage health and wellness in those that heal others. TCOOO works with each division to implement educational programs with customized material to address stressors in different fields of medicine.
Please feel free to email us with any questions.