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Medical Schools Are Now Interviewing Candidates Online

Many medical schools are making the decision for residency and fellowship interviews to be done online. Quickly adapting to a virtual interview process, during a pandemic, is going to present challenges.

The change to virtual interviewing creates challenges for programs and their applicants but, some experts and participants believe if done right, virtual interviewing practices may overhaul a problematic application process in ways that could outlast the pandemic.

Ushasi Naha, a fourth-year student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine said, “People are concerned about conveying personality in a virtual interview. Then there are worries about good lighting, good internet, and a quiet place to take an interview that could last all day.”

Ilana Rosman, MD, an Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri said, Equal opportunity and resource inequality are concerns when changes rely on technology. Some applicants have better access than others to reliable, high-speed Internet and devices with high-quality audio and video capabilities.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), before COVID-19, applicants attended 13 interviews on average and often spent thousands of dollars traveling to them. This year, as the pandemic has forced interviews online, students are thrilled with the cost-savings.

But this raises the concern that candidates may accept more interviews than before the pandemic since they won’t have to travel. “Now it could be a lot easier for students to hold on to more invitations than they truly need,” says Aurora Bennett, MD, associate dean for student affairs at the UC College of Medicine.

Experts speculate that after the pandemic is over, virtual interviews may become a standard part of the application process. They offer an opportunity to make the system work better for more people, including those with disabilities and those strained by travel.

For medical students to get a feel for institutions without visiting them, they should spend time looking at their websites, investigating their research emphases, and looking into where alumni of the program ended up.

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