Extension of Temporary Changes to Board Eligibility Requirements

Posted 08/25/2021 | Residency & Training, COVID-19

August 25, 2021

Dear Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Residents, Residency Program Directors, and Residency Program Coordinators,

On April 1, 2020, the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (ABOHNS) communicated temporary changes to our Board eligibility requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 30, 2020, ABOHNS communicated that these temporary changes would be extended to June 30, 2021, due to the ongoing challenges related to the pandemic. With the current delta variant surge and still unpredictable course of the pandemic, the ABOHNS has decided to continue these temporary changes to include the current academic year that ends on June 30, 2022. As a reminder, these temporary changes are stated below.

1) To accommodate each institution, the ABOHNS recognizes that scheduled rotations for PGY-1 residents may require adjusting. For the PGY-1 Residents’ 2021-2022 academic year, the ABOHNS requires a minimum of three months of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery rotations and three months of non-Otolaryngology rotations chosen from the options described in the June 2021 Booklet-of-Information. For the remaining six months, the ABOHNS will allow rotation flexibility at the discretion of the Residency Program Director if necessary to ensure patients with COVID-19 are able to receive the best care should a resident need to be reassigned to a rotation to meet local care needs of COVID-19 patients. If changes to a Resident’s rotations result in the ABOHNS requirements not being met, the Residency Program Director must inform the ABOHNS at the conclusion of the Resident’s PGY-1 year, along with a plan of making up required rotation(s). If the minimum requirements described above are met, no make-up rotations will be necessary.

2) The ABOHNS recognizes that residents at all levels might be needed to provide care for COVID-19 patients. Clinical time dedicated to caring for patients with COVID-19 will be counted toward the training requirements for Board Eligibility. The Residency Program Director will need to inform the Board at the conclusion of the PGY-year about changes made to a Resident’s rotations to assist with the clinical care for COVID-19 patients. Additionally, with input from the Clinical Competency Committee (CCC), the Residency Program Director will continue to decide whether a resident has acquired and demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to advance to the subsequent PGY-year or, if in the ultimate year, graduate from residency and enter autonomous practice. If a determination is made that a resident’s training must be extended because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery training and experience, then the Program Director must inform ABOHNS of this decision as soon as possible.

3) The ABOHNS recognizes that residents can be exposed to COVID-19 as they care for patients, which will lead to mandated self-isolation and quarantine. If a resident requires up to two weeks of self-isolation and quarantine, this time will not count toward the allowed six weeks leave time for the PGY-year if the program arranges for the resident to complete academic study activity during that time. The Residency Program Director will need to provide a written description of the academic study activity to the ABOHNS. Extended absences (greater than two weeks) for residents that contract and require treatment for COVID-19 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In either circumstance, the ABOHNS expects that the Residency Program Director will inform the ABOHNS about the situation as soon as possible.

Please contact Shannon Lamkin at sll@abohns.org or 713-850-0399 if you have any questions about this information.

On behalf of the ABOHNS Board of Directors, I want to express my most sincere gratitude for all your dedication and contributions to resident training and patient care during the ongoing pandemic. Best wishes for everyone’s continued health and safety.

With Best Regards,
Brian Nussenbaum, MD, MHCM