New guidance issued.
Residents and fellows should have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), have their student loan debt forgiven, and other measures to deal with COVID-19, the American Medical Association (AMA) said in a new guidance.
“Residents should be granted forgiveness and/or forbearance for all or portions of their student loan debt to ease the financial stress they may experience in caring for themselves and their families. This is particularly important during this time of compromised access to opportunities to supplement their income, such as moonlighting,” AMA said in its “Guiding principles to protect residents & fellow physicians responding to COVID-19,” document.
The residency program guidance is needed to help the more than 135,000 resident and fellow physicians “adequately address the personal, physical and economic stresses that residents and fellows are facing,” the organization said in a press release.
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“As part of their training, residents and fellows across the country are being heavily relied upon as essential front-line caregivers 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 A. Harris, MD.
In addition to student loan forgiveness, other important measures covered in the guidance include:
“As hospitals and health systems confront the economic impact of the pandemic response, we urge early consideration of effects on the training environment and the sustainability of GME programs,” AMA said. Health systems should also proactively manage opportunities for residents to continue their professional development.