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2021 Hardship Modifications to Vascular Surgery Training Requirements

Please see below for a list of hardship modifications and accompanying FAQs for 2021 graduating vascular surgery trainees. Unless noted otherwise, these hardship modifications apply to individuals completing training in 2021 only.

Hardship Modifications

  • Non-voluntary offsite time that is used for clinical or educational purposes can be counted as clinical time. The types of activities done in this time should be documented by the program.
  • The Vascular Surgery Board of the ABS (VSB) will accept 44 weeks of clinical time (including the non-voluntary time) for the 2020-21 academic year, without the need for pre-approval, permission or explanation.
  • The VSB will accept a similar 10% decrease in total cases, or 225 major vascular cases, without the need for further documentation. Those who fall short of this minimum threshold may petition the VSB to grant credit for their final year.
  • Program directors are entrusted, as they always are, to make a decision about the readiness of the trainee for independent practice. If a trainee falls below the minimum threshold for cases or training time, and the program director nevertheless endorses them as ready for independent practice, the VSB will seek a more detailed supporting statement. This might include information from the CCC, milestones achievements, entrustment through EPAs, evidence of leadership during this crisis, or other information.
  • Trainees should assess their own progress towards the standard requirements in terms of rotations, cases, and specialty-specific requirements. Trainees should make a remediation proposal for gaps, and share with their program directors.

FAQs

While trainees are encouraged to strive to meet 100% of current training expectations with respect to length of training time, the Vascular Surgery Board (VSB) understands the nature of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on surgical training. To this effect, any non-voluntary offsite time that is used for clinical or educational purposes can be counted as clinical time. The types of activities done in this time should be documented by the program.

In addition, the VSB will accept 44 weeks of clinical time (including the non-voluntary time) for the 2020-21 academic year, without the need for pre-approval, permission or explanation.

The VSB will consider special requests for excused absences on a case-by-case basis from trainees who contract COVID-19 and miss training for an extended period due to severe coronavirus-related illness. Similarly, special requests for trainees who are excused from clinical care due to pregnancies and/or immunocompromised states will also be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

These requests should be accompanied by an attestation of competence from the program director and the local Clinical Competency Committee. In some cases where competency is not clear, the trainee will not be eligible for graduation or registration for the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Exam (VQE) and will be required to extend their training.

For 2021, the graduating vascular surgery trainee is required to have 225 major vascular cases in order to apply for the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Exam (VQE). Graduating trainees who fall short of this minimum threshold for procedures may petition the VSB to grant credit for their final year, provided that they have letters of support from their program director and chair of their Clinical Competency Committee, and their overall application is acceptable to the VSB. Those whose requests are granted will receive credit for their accrued cases and be advanced to graduation and registration for the VQE. Those whose requests are not granted for any reason will not receive credit and must extend their training.

Note: Other possible evidence of competency may include higher than average Milestones ratings (4 or greater), documentation of clinic time, and SimPL scores, among others.

These hardship modifications apply to vascular surgery trainees graduating in 2021 only.

Graduating trainees should promptly assess their educational and clinical experience critically. This assessment should utilize metrics available including milestone evaluations, case numbers, number of weeks in "clinical activity" (with the broader definitions), quality improvement projects, and clinic attendance, among others. Fellows should promptly approach their program directors and together, with Clinical Competency Committee input, honestly and critically evaluate the trainee’s knowledge, skills and abilities. The results of this systematic assessment should be used to create a focused plan to be enacted for the rest of the academic year.


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