December 01, 2020

Paper: Should medical residency interviews be capped?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, changes to the residency application process may tempt applicants to overschedule interviews; Michigan Medicine physicians modeled the potential consequences of over-interviewing

Virtual residency interviews

The COVID-19 pandemic is still here, and as a result, residency programs across the United States will have to readjust their interview processes, substituting in-person meetings for virtual ones instead.

This only adds to the uncertainty that many medical students and other key stakeholders already have about the 2021 residency application cycle, notes Helen Kang Morgan, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and learning health sciences at the University of Michigan Medical School. Morgan is also a co-investigator for the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) American Medical Association Reimaging Residency Grant, “Right Resident, Right Program, Ready Day One.”

“Medical students, medical schools and residency programs have already had to deal with cancelled clinical electives, delayed or cancelled United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE), significant limitations on visiting student electives and sub-internship rotations, as well as changes to the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) timelines,” says Morgan. “The new virtual interview process is just another item on an already-existing list.”

Due to these disruptions, both applicants and residency programs may opt to increase their residency interview numbers in the upcoming application cycle.

“It’s important to note that applicants will no longer be limited by travel and cost deterrents,” says Morgan. “And residency programs will now have the ability to schedule interviews throughout multiple days and during non-business hours. In the past, they were bound to more traditional schedules, with each applicants’ interview schedule taking place on a single day.”

Morgan adds that without an in-person component, many applicants and programs alike will now look to increase their interview numbers to ensure that they find the right match.

“Historically, traditional interview day experiences have weighed heavily on both parties when determining mutual compatibility,” says Morgan. “This will no longer be a factor.”

However, this inflation may pose some risks for applicants, as the number of applications per applicant have significantly risen.