As the nation and world face the evolving COVID-19 (SARS COV2) crisis, the ACGME has granted a significant degree of flexibility to accredited Sponsoring Institutions and programs to realign their resident and fellow workforce to meet the increased clinical demands created by the pandemic. This flexibility with expectations is provided consistent with the ACGME’s commitment to patient safety and resident/fellow safety. In exchange for this flexibility, the ACGME expects strict compliance with the following four requirements:
- Work Hour Requirements
The ACGME Common Program Requirements Section VI Work Hour Requirements remain unchanged. Safety of patients and residents/fellows is the ACGME’s highest priority, and it is vital all residents and fellows receive adequate rest between clinical duties. Violations of the work hour limitations have been associated with an increase in medical errors, needle sticks, and other adverse events that might lead to lapses in infection control, slips in this area could increase risks for both patients and residents/fellows.
- Adequate Resources and Training
Any resident, fellow, and faculty member providing care to patients potentially infected with COVID-19 must be fully trained in treatment and infection control protocols and procedures adopted by their local health care setting (e.g., personal protective equipment [PPE]). Clinical learning environments must provide adequate resources, facilities, and training to properly recognize and care for these patients, including the need to take a complete travel and exposure history in patients presenting with signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- Adequate Supervision
Any resident or fellow who provides care to patients will do so under the appropriate supervision for the clinical circumstance and the level of education of the resident/fellow. Faculty members are expected to have been trained in the treatment and infection control protocols and procedures adopted by their local health care settings. Sponsoring Institutions and programs should continue to monitor the CDC website.
- Fellows Functioning in their Core (Primary) Specialty
Fellows in ACGME-accredited programs can function within their core specialty (i.e., the specialty in which they completed their residency), consistent with the policies and procedures of the Sponsoring Institution and its participating sites, if:
- they are American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or American Osteopathic Association (AOA) board-eligible or -certified in the core specialty;
- they are appointed to the medical staff at the Sponsoring Institution; and,
- their time spent on their core specialty service is limited to 20 percent of their annual education time in any academic year.