The Need for Telemedicine Integration Into Adult Cardiology Training Curricula in Canada
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COVID-19 brought telemedicine to the forefront of clinical cardiology. We aimed to examine the extent of trainees' involvement in and comfort with telemedicine practices in Canada with the use of a web-based self-administered survey. Eighty-six trainees from 12 training programs completed the survey (65% response rate). Results showed that before COVID-19, 39 trainees (45%) had telemedicine exposure, compared with 67 (78%) after COVID-19 (P < 0.001). However, only 44 trainees (51%) reported being comfortable or very comfortable with the use of telemedicine. Of the 67 trainees who were involved in telemedicine, 4 (6%) had full supervision during virtual visits, 13 (19%) had partial supervision, and 50 (75%) had minimal or no supervision. Importantly, 67 trainees (78%) expressed the need for telemedicine-specific training and 64 (74%) were willing to have their virtual visits recorded for the purpose of evaluation and feedback. Furthermore, 47 (55%) felt strongly or very strongly positive about incorporating telemedicine into their future practice. The main perceived barriers to telemedicine use were concerns about patients' engagement, fear of weakening the patient-physician relationship, and unfamiliarity with telemedicine technology. These barriers, together with training in virtual physical examination skills and medicolegal aspects of telemedicine, are addressed in several established internal medicine telemedicine curricula that could be adapted by cardiology programs. In conclusion, while the degree of telemedicine involvement since COVID-19 was high, the trainees' comfort level with telemedicine practice remains suboptimal likely due to lack of training and inadequate staff supervision. Therefore, a cardiology telemedicine curriculum is needed to ensure that trainees are equipped to embrace telemedicine in cardiovascular clinical care.
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