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Welcoming residents, fellows creates new challenges

Jun. 17, 2020, 3:35 PM

Sarah Hmaidan, DO, tries on a N95 respirator in Light Hall during orientation for incoming residents and fellows.
Sarah Hmaidan, DO, tries on a N95 respirator in Light Hall during orientation for incoming residents and fellows. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Kathy Whitney

Throughout June Vanderbilt University Medical Center is welcoming 330 new residents and fellows, and onboarding the physicians-in-training looks a bit different this year.

They began to arrive on campus June 16 for orientation, much of which is online due to social distancing measures put in place with COVID-19.

The longstanding tradition of a welcome picnic for the physicians and their families was canceled, but the Office of Graduate Medical Education is ready to welcome their newest providers in other ways, said Trish Craft, administrative director of GME.

“It is challenging to think about orienting new residents and fellows during this time, and we are working to welcome them in different ways this year because there are certain things we can’t do,” Craft said.

Orientation is taking place June 16-19, and much of it will be online, including pre-recorded lectures on health and wellness, new innovations and best practices, benefits, residents as teachers and learners, compliance and privacy and a session on how they will protect themselves and patients from COVID-19.

Some orientation activities must be completed in person and will be conducted in small groups, such as Occupational Health screenings, I-9 paperwork, N95 respirator fittings and picking up lab coats.

“It takes the personal aspects out of orientation this year, which we will all miss because we do enjoy seeing people face to face,” said Megan Whitey, GME program manager, adding that her team of 13 began the process of planning a virtual orientation in mid-April.

They have been collaborating — mostly remotely — for months to ensure the new VUMC employees feel welcomed and receive all of the important instruction they need to begin caring for patients. Welcome packets, gift bags and scheduling have all been done from the team members’ homes.

Orientation will continue through June to accommodate all of the residents and fellows.

“Normally, orientation is three full days and we have 200 residents with us for those days. Fellowship orientation is one day with 100 of them. How to put all of that content in a virtual format and to help them feel welcome is a challenge, but everything is moving forward beautifully,” Craft said.

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