Impact of COVID-19 on medical students' residency choice

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on medical school education across the country. The pandemic has caused medical schools to move courses online, disrupted clinical rotation schedules, halted away rotations and electives, and forced some fourth-year medical students to graduate early. While healthcare providers were on the front lines of the pandemic caring for patients, many medical students chose to reconsider their residency choices. Whether the pandemic has inspired a career in anesthesiology, or caused students to reconsider specialties that are focused on acute/critical care and respiratory support, has yet to be determined. With the ever-changing landscape of healthcare in the face of the pandemic, it is paramount to understand how current medical students[ENTamp;#8217; career choices have been altered. This study aims to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted medical students[ENTapos; residency choices, specifically, students who are considering a career in anesthesiology, or on the other hand, those no longer considering this specialty due to the pandemic.
We surveyed all current medical students at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan. This cross-sectional survey includes questions to assess the status of each medical student[ENTamp;#8217;s residency choice before the start of the pandemic and as of today, personal impact of COVID-19 on residency choice, consideration of anesthesiology as a specialty choice, and factors influencing these choices. Approximately 500 students received the survey, with 115 providing responses for our primary analysis, the majority of whom are current second, third, and fourth year medical students who were or are actively deciding on a specialty choice. The following percentages are based on the number of responses to each survey question. Of these students, 75 (66.96%) were undecided on a residency/specialty choice prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 69 (61.61%) have decided on a residency/specialty choice as of today. As a result of COVID-19, 25 (22.32%) students responded that there are residencies/specialties that they would no longer consider specializing in; these specialties include, but are not limited to, emergency medicine, critical care, and pulmonology. In regards to anesthesiology, 34 (30.63%) students did consider a career in anesthesiology prior to the pandemic with 6 (10.34%) responding that the pandemic has influenced their decision as of today in ways that include increased likelihood to consider this specialty due to a stable job market, increased exposure during rotations, and interest in the procedural aspects of the field. Finally, for students who answered that they did not consider a career in anesthesiology prior to the pandemic, 86 (93.48%) students answered that the pandemic did not motivate them to now consider a career in anesthesiology.
Our study has found that 26 (23.64%) students surveyed felt that the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced their choice of residency/specialty to some extent or to a great extent. Investigating the impact that the pandemic had and will continue to have on medical student residency/specialty choices is crucial to understanding how careers in specialties such as anesthesiology may change in the future.


American Society of Anesthesiology Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, October 21-25, 2022.