American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Shifting Applicant Attitudes Towards Virtual Plastic Surgery Residency Interviews
Neel Bhagat, BS, Ravinder Bamba, MD, Jeffrey Gross, MD, Aladdin H. Hassanein, MD, MMSc, William A. Wooden, MD
Division of Plastic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced plastic surgery residency programs to transition to virtual interviews for recruitment. In addition to reducing risks of COVID-19 exposure by minimizing travel, virtual interviews are more cost effective and less time consuming for applicants. However, virtual interviews make personal interactions with faculty and residents more challenging for applicants. Assessment of the location and hospital setting is also hindered. This impedes an applicant’s ability to potentially evaluate a program effectively. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the 2021 integrated plastic surgery applicant attitudes towards the current virtual interview process
Methods: We surveyed 2021 applicants to our integrated plastic surgery program who interviewed virtually (n=32). Virtual Interview Survey. Applicants were surveyed on how well they became acquainted with our program, faculty, and residents on a scale from 1-5
Results: The survey response was 43.8% (14/32). Most respondents did not have a preference between virtual and in-person interviews (57.1%, n=8). On average, respondents were satisfied with the virtual interview process, rating their overall experience 8.4 (± 1.3) of 10. Applicants responded that they became acquainted with our program, faculty, and residents with respective scores of 3.9 (± 0.62), 3.7 (± 0.73), and 3.6 (± 1.01) on a scale of 1-5. Table 1. Most applicants did not believe that either a virtual or in-person interview resulted in an advantage to matching (57.1%, n=8). Most applicants responded that virtual interviews allow the opportunity to attend more interviews (78.6%, n=11). Figure 1
Conclusions: We previously published survey data comparing virtual and in-person interviews in the 2020 plastic surgery match during the abrupt transition to virtual interviews during the onset of the pandemic. That study demonstrated lower scores for virtual interviews compared to in-person. However, this survey indicates that applicant attitudes have shifted. Overall, applicants scored the virtual interview process positively in 2021. With the efficiency and financial advantage that virtual interviews offer, it is possible they can become part of the residency selection process even after pandemic restrictions are lifted. Given these findings, residency programs should work on optimizing the virtual interview process.


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