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Research and Training during the Pandemic 

 Juan Camilo Morales-Taborda1, Anamaria Camargo-Cardenas2, Esteban Gómez-Ríos3, Edgar Julián Duarte-Valencia4, and Ivan David Lozada-Martínez5 

 1. School of Medicine, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia 

2. School of Medicine, Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Bucaramanga, Colombia

3. School of Medicine, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia

4. School of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia 

5. Medical and Surgical Research Center, University of Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia 


Correspondence to: Ivan David Lozada-Martinez; email: 

Received: 4 May 2021; Revised: 23 Jun 2021; Accepted: 30 Jun 2021; Available online: 16 Aug 2021

Keywords: COVID-19, surgery, medical education, interest groups 

Ann Afr Surg. 2021 ; 18(4): 198-199
Conflicts of Interest: None
Funding: None
© 2021 Author. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License 

Dear Editor, 

We read with great interest the article published recently by Mutambirwa (1), titled “Interest in Continuing Surgical Activity—A Necessity During the Pandemic,” where the authors highlighted the importance of generating a change in attitude and innovating in the context of surgical activity and training during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the objective of guaranteeing adequate medical training for the next generations of healthcare workers. We thank Mutambirwa (1) for discussing such an important topic today. However, we would like to add a few comments. 

 The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted various aspects of daily life, leading to a large number of changes necessary to achieve adequate adaptation and survival. One of the fields with the greatest impact globally has been medical education and surgical training, which, as Lozada-Martínez et al. (2) point out, have undergone radical changes in the context of the 

training process of students, with strategies such as virtual education and the use of virtual simulators being implemented in order to reduce the likelihood of contagion and ensure the safety of patients, students, and other participants (2). However, Kim et al. (3) emphasize that such virtual measures proposed as alternatives for training represent limited learning experiences; hence, different medical schools must adopt decisions that, while still being safe for students in the context of COVID-19 infection, allow them to obtain a satisfactory clinical experience (3). 

Alterations in surgical practice have led to a decrease in the continuity of research projects, which significantly affects the production of new knowledge in surgery (1). In response to this problem, Maiguel-Lapeira et al. (4) have proposed, as an alternative, the participation in surgical interest groups by medical students, residents, and teachers, so that they can continue to obtain and promote academic and scientific knowledge (4). Likewise, Vakayil et al. (5) emphasize that these interest 

groups allow students to increase their interest in the area studied by providing them with a real vision of the clinical and academic attributes of the group’s base discipline. In their study, where they inquired about the impact of interest groups specifically in surgery, it was found that the knowledge and confidence of the participating students with respect to the different basic surgical skills increased significantly (p < 0.001) (5). 

We propose the design and implementation of this educational strategy in the surgical departments of different medical schools and hospitals worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries, which would substantially increase the production of new knowledge, strengthen networks of new knowledge and contacts at national and international levels, and reinforce the academic training of medical student and residents in order to become excellent future surgeons who stand out in scientifically as well as in providing care. 


1. Mutambirwa SBA. Interest in continuing surgical activity—a necessity during the pandemic. Ann Afr Surg. 2021; 18: 67-68. 

2. Lozada-Martínez I, Bolaño-Romero M, Moscote-Salazar L, et al. Letter to the editor: “Medical Education in Times of COVID-19: What’s     New in Neurosurgery?” World Neurosurg. 2020; 143: 603. 

3. Kim J, Myung S, Yoon H, et al. How medical education survives and evolves during COVID-19: our experience and future direction. PLoS     One. 2020; 15: e0243958. 

4. Maiguel-Lapeira J, Lozada-Martínez I, Torres-Llinás D, et al. Letter to the editor: Academic and Research Interest Groups in                            Neurosurgery: A Smart Strategy in Times of COVID-19. J Neurosurg. 2021. Online ahead of print. 

5. Vakayil V, Chandrashekar M, Hedberg J, et al. An undergraduate surgery interest group: introducing premedical students to the practice        of surgery. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2020; 11: 339-349. 

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