The 2020-2021 residency recruitment season will be a departure from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic-driven prohibition on away rotations for most students and the fact that the vast majority of recruiting will need to be done virtually. This has raised a number of important questions about how the upcoming virtual interview season will be conducted. This document outlines ACAPS's guidance regarding virtual interviews. Our goal is to encourage an environment that is as fair to all programs and applicants as possible and minimize pressure on students
- Prior to the standard uniform interview invitation release date of 12/4/20, programs may continue to offer Virtual Meet & Greet or other informational/clinical/didactic sessions for their programs as well as virtual rotations for 3rd and 4th year medical students. Please take note: feedback from students suggests that programs may be creating unintended pressure for a student to attend all offerings from a program in order to express their interest in that program. We recommend against taking attendance or requiring videos of the applicants to be visible during the meeting – students still have clinical and other medical school related duties, so these actions can put stress on applicants in the midst of their required education. Also, be transparent about your intentions – clearly state whether or not you will be using attendance as a sign of interest.
- Formal interviews should be conducted adhering to the standing ACAPS policy of a uniform interview invitation release date 12/4/20 and scheduling date 12/7/20. We recognize that most programs are continuing the past process of scheduling one to three standard virtual interview dates for groups of applicants. Regardless of how the interviews are scheduled, no offers for interviews should be extended before 12/4 or accepted before 12/7.
- Programs should be transparent about their interview practices—including, but not limited to, how many applicants are invited for interviews, how communication occurs, and how often communication occurs—to all stakeholders in the process, including faculty and applicants.
- Formal program introductions and orientations, the former "night before" or "morning of" group presentation programs should be scheduled for specific groups of interviewees at specific times as opposed to being open to all applicants. Prior to the formal interview season, residency programs should make explicit how many informational or other sessions interviewees are expected to attend as part of the interview process. All other virtual programming from programs such as grand rounds, clinical vignettes, didactic lectures should be limited to those students enrolled in formal plastic surgery sub-internships. Again, scheduling multiple program offerings may give the impression that a program expects applicants to attend as many as possible to express genuine interest.
- For all programs, the standing ACAPS 'no-contact' policy on communication with trainees after their formal interview is still in effect. No program initiated contact should be made to an applicant after their interview. No program should schedule or offer "second round" 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.
- Programs can continue posting social media in the global sense of promotion after interview release dates, but student interaction with these will have no impact on their ranking, including, but not limited to, 'liking' posts, commenting on posts, or reposting content.
- Asynchronous interviews - some programs may use the current situation to experiment with an asynchronous plan for virtual interviews, i.e.-allowing faculty to set up individual interview sessions with individual applicants at a time more convenient for both. On one hand, this arrangement may allow greater flexibility for both faculty and interviewee and interfere less with clinical and personal obligations. On the other hand, there is the potential for excessively burdening interviewees with the pressure of having to be available at multiple times for multiple programs for more than three months. A program may also be tempted to use the lack of a clear interview date as justification for continuous recruitment of applicants. As a result, ACAPS is strongly suggesting that an asynchronous interview strategy not by used except in unusual circumstances to accommodate an applicant whose circumstances warrant special considerations. Asynchronous interviews are not to be used as a way of scheduling a second look at any applicant.
- Some institutions offer informational sessions to under-represented minority applicants. At institutions that offer these for all under-represented minority applicants in all specialties, plastic surgery applicants and programs may partake in the larger informational sessions.
Adherence to these principles and policies is the responsibility of the Program Director. As in the past, verified violations will be reported to the Plastic Surgery RRC.