Applicant perception of virtual interviews in cardiothoracic surgery: A Thoracic Education Cooperative Group Study

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Publication Date


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The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery


OBJECTIVES: Cardiothoracic programs used virtual interviews exclusively this year. As programs consider using virtual interviews permanently, our goal was to evaluate the experience of applicants with virtual interviews.

METHODS: All 2020-2021 traditional cardiothoracic fellowship applicants received an anonymous electronic survey after the Match process ended. The survey assessed the number of interviews, strengths, and inadequacies of virtual interviews and factors that affected rank decision.

RESULTS: Forty-three percent of applicants responded (60/139). The average number of interviews was 16.0. Eighty percent (48/60) of respondents successfully matched. Eighty-seven percent (52/60) of respondents had a favorable experience with virtual interviews, and 97% (58/60) found them to be convenient. However, only 50% (30/60) were able to evaluate a program fully. Respondents who matched were more likely to have a favorable experience (P = .02), but not more likely to be able to evaluate a program fully (P = .35). The most valued aspect was the informal meet and greet session with fellows (4.2 of 5). The least valued aspect was the program's social media site (2.0 of 5). The factors most frequently used to decide ranking were case numbers by 92% (55/60) and culture/personality by 82% (49/60).

CONCLUSIONS: Virtual interviews were perceived more favorably compared with last year, but half of applicants were still unable to evaluate a program fully. Fellow interactions were the most popular aspect of virtual interviews. As programs consider using virtual interviews permanently, more exposure to current trainees and a more robust social media/online presence will improve favorability.

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ePub ahead of print