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Orthopedic Residency Training During COVID-19

In This Video

  • According to Christopher Bono, MD, COVID-19 has limited in-person interactions between faculty and residents, but participation has expanded overall, due to the global accessibility of video conferencing technologies
  • The Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program has developed a virtual boot camp where residents perform orthopedic exercises at home using DIY principles and household tools
  • The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the globalization of medical education and professional development at Massachusetts General Hospital and beyond

Christopher Bono, MD, executive vice-chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and associate director of the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, describes how orthopedic residency training has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.


During COVID-19, we have had to become very creative in the way we deliver education, have meetings, as well as any other type of interaction amongst the residents, and between the attendings and the residents.

This has been both good and bad. Of course, we miss those live in-person interactions, but at the same time, sometimes those live in-person interactions were difficult to implement. For instance, we have residents that are at various different hospitals and could not necessarily come back to home base here in Boston for a conference. Now with Zoom lectures, we are able to have much greater participation. This has segued into a whole different way that we have administered our core lectures to our residents, which are now done completely virtually.

We have also instituted a virtual method of educating our interns for what is called boot camp. Boot camp was a large module that took place over a month in which there was a combination of lectures as well as in-person hands-on basic orthopedic skill education and teaching. In the quarantine, of course, we could not have any in-person meetings, so having some type of sawbones or live demonstration of how to put a screw, or where to put a screw, or how to hold a drill, was no longer feasible. What our group did, led by our overall program director George Dyer, and one of our graduating superstar residents last year, developed a virtual boot camp.

In addition to the lectures, we developed a low cost, easily accessible group of instruments, tools and materials such as wooden blocks, screws from the hardware store, a power drill, and various other objects and devices that simulated what we use in the operating room and guided our interns through various activities so that they can learn and be prepared for their first year officially of orthopedics, in their second year of residency. This has allowed people to not only attend lectures locally, but just last week, we had grand rounds, a special lecture given by one of our faculty, and we had people attend from all around the world. This has really forever changed medical education, and this will forever change both the spine fellowship education and the residency education. I was invited to be a panelist at a worldwide discussion. We had one panelist from New York, one panelist from Switzerland, and then myself in Boston. We were all up at the same time, presenting and discussing live through online platforms. This truly is a paradigm change in education and in the exchange of knowledge.

Learn more about Orthopaedics Education & Training at Mass General

Learn more about the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program


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