Attendance of in-person didactic conferences is a key component of graduate medical education and training in pediatric emergency medicine. Faculty participation in didactic conferences is important, although challenges to attendance exist. The SARS CoV-2 global pandemic disrupted in-person medical education and forced migration to virtual learning. Our goal was to describe how the change to virtual learning affected pediatric emergency medicine conference attendance by faculty in the division at a large academic medical center. Participants were also surveyed to provide insight into perceptions of virtual conferences.
Faculty attendance of in-person conferences (fellow conference from 2017–2020, resident conference from 2019–2020) was compared to attendance of virtual conferences (April - June 2020). Conference participants were surveyed to assess attitudes towards the virtual format. Descriptive statistics were used to describe variables.
The transition to virtual learning increased pediatric emergency medicine faculty attendance of all conferences. Fellows conference attendance increased from 11.8–49.2% of available faculty (3.3 to 13.8 out of 28) (95% CI -14.0 to -9.09 p < 0.001). Resident conference attendance increased from 18.3–58.9% of available faculty (5.12 to 16.5 out of 28) (95% CI -20.89 to -8.60 p < 0.001). Survey response rate including fellows and residents was 67.5% (52/77), with 88.2% of faculty members responding to the survey (30/34). Most respondents (75%) regarded the virtual format as better or equal to in-person. All respondents (100%) indicated they would keep the option to virtually attend conference in the future.
Virtual conferences increased faculty attendance in both fellow and resident pediatric emergency medicine educational conferences. It was well received by participants, and most would like to continue virtual learning in the future.