1. What happens if my letter of recommendation writers do not have their letters completed by September 29th (the date ERAS applications can start to be reviewed by programs)?
We strongly encourage students to have all of the application material required by ERAS submitted by the September 29th date. It is also recognized that students can not completely control when their letters of recommendation get submitted. While all faculty are strongly encouraged to complete the letters by September 29th, programs understand that some of their peers may be slightly delinquent. If your letters are not uploaded by September 29th, it would be appropriate to gentle send a reminder to your letter of recommendation writer and/or their administrative support.
2. What if one of my letter of recommendation writers does not complete the ACAPS letter of recommendation form?
While ACAPS encourages use of the recommendation form by your letter of recommendation writers, it is not mandatory and some faculty will opt to only write a standard letter of recommendation. Programs are aware of this variability in usage and based on the experience of over the past years, whether a letter writer does or does not use the additional ACAPS form does NOT affect the impact of the letter.
3. How come I am hearing about some students doing more than one away rotation when the national recommendations were for only one away rotation?
Everyone is aware of the national recommendations from the Coalition for Physician Accountability and other organizations related to away student rotations found here: Medical Student Away Rotations for Remainder of 2020-21 and 2021-22 Academic Year | AAMC. Earlier this year, ACAPS decided to not have a formal policy on away rotations, but encouraged adherence to national recommendations and institutional policies based on the uniqueness of our specialty and variability in access to plastic surgery education across medical schools. Thus, ACAPS believed that it was best to allow individual medical schools to make the most appropriate regulations for their own students and/or potential visiting students.
4. Can you please explain how the Plastic Surgery Common Application is part of this year's applications?
The Plastic Surgery Common Applications (PSCA) was used a supplemental piece of the application process last year with overall positive reviews from students and programs. The goal of the PSCA was to provide a more relevant plastic surgery specific application while reducing the financial costs to students. Based on the results of last year's pilot study, ACAPS has encouraged the use of the PSCA by member programs. Most programs will still be requiring an ERAS application as the primary application with the recommended use of the PSCA as a supplemental application. In addition, there are some programs that plan to use only the PSCA for applicant review. Additional information can be found at: American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons - Plastic Surgery Common Application (acaplasticsurgeons.org).
5. Why is ACAPS supporting use of the PSCA?
While ACAPS recognizes the increase work for students that is required to complete a supplemental application, the potential for a more specialty-specific application that provides students a better ability to highlight their most important accomplishments will likely lead to a better holistic review by programs. In addition, the costs of the PSCA (free to applicants) is attractive given the known financial burden placed on students during the Match process. ACAPS will review the feedback and outcomes from this year's use of PSCA in evaluating the potential for even more substantial usage in the upcoming years. Similar trends are also being seen in other specialties and within the ERAS applications.
6. What is the 'uniform' interview date?
ACAPS understands the stress and inequities in a first-come, first-serve interview policy, in which more interview invitations are sent out than there are spots for interviews. ACAPS has a policy regarding interview invitations, known informally as the 'uniform interview date'. Briefly, the interview invitations are sent on the same day for all programs. No more interview invitations are sent out than there are spots for interviews. Applicants then will have several days to consider their options, and can accept or reject their interview offers. Once the programs have heard from the 'first round' invitations, they may reissue invitations for unfilled interview slots. For the 2021-2022 cycle, Integrated interview offers will be made on Friday, November 12th by 12PM PST and interview scheduling should not start before Monday, November 15th at 8AM PST. We do realize that programs use various methods for communicating acceptance of interview offers (direct contact, Thalamus, etc) and that in some cases, this may allow for responses prior to Monday, Nov 15th. However, ACAPS has strongly encouraged programs to adhere to an acceptance date of no sooner than Monday, Nov 15th so that students have the opportunity to use the weekend to prioritize their interview offers when there are conflicting dates. Additional information can be found at: American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons - ACAPS 2021-2022 Interview Policy (acaplasticsurgeons.org)
7. I am trying to plan my schedule for interview season, when are most interviews?
For plastic surgery, the majority of interviews will occur between December and February. A list of currently scheduled interview dates can be found at: American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons - Interview Dates (acaplasticsurgeons.org)
8. Does ACAPS have a policy on whether interviews should be virtual or in person?
ACAPS recognizes that virtual interviews for purposes of resident selection during the match process provides both opportunities and challenges. ACAPS's policy regarding virtual interviews during the match process is to allow individual programs to determine which format (virtual, in person, or a hybrid) best serves their needs and the interests of their stakeholders. In addition, we except ongoing changes from programs as the Delta variant continues to be a factor in local medical school policies on travel. We are trying to obtained information on interview format (virtual, hybrid, or in-person) for the website, but this is also a moving target due to the pandemic. Regardless of the format of the interviews, programs are expected to follow ACAPS Uniform Policy and Guidelines for Post Interview Communication addressed in Question #9
9. Given the limitations of away rotations, can we go to an institution for a "second-look" after an interview?
ACAPS has a 'no-contact' policy on communication with trainees after their formal interview is still in effect. The current policy can be found at: https://acaplasticsurgeons.org/multimedia/files/Post-Interview-Communication-Policy.ppt No program-initiated contact should be made to an applicant after their interview. No program should schedule or offer "second-look" interviews either to a group or to individuals. Some students may choose, on their own and outside of 'official' channels, to visit a location/institution they are interested in. Because of the inequity that may result from variable COVID-related travel quarantine requirements among states and of disparities between students able to arrange and to afford these visits and those unable to do that, NO contact between the student and anyone associated with the program such as faculty, residents, and support staff, is to occur if a student decides to evaluate a location.
10. Why are there fewer ACAPS webinars and no ACAPS-sponsored "meet and greets" this year?
As part of last year's response to COVID, significant efforts were made by ACAPS to provide information to students. When combined with the individual efforts of the programs, we found that students were spending every evening on Zoom from 6-9PM which was not congruent with medical student education once student clerkships resumed. ACAPS is still holding a more limited number of webinars on focused topics. Individual programs may also still be holding meet and greet events that can be posted on the ACAPS calendar, but are typically announced though the social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) of individual programs.