Challenges and Opportunities of Virtual CVD Fellowship Interviews

Fellowship programs and applicants face a series of unique opportunities and challenges during all-virtual recruitment, and it’s crucial to build upon experiences from the previous year to help shape a more seamless and flexible interview process for the future, according to a paper published Aug. 30 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Lisa J. Rose-Jones, MD, FACC, chair-elect of ACC’s Program Directors and Graduate Medical Educators Section, et al., explain that the virtual interview presents new hurdles for the applicant, such as connectivity issues, technological inequities, and limited opportunities to connect with prospective mentors. To combat these obstacles, the authors recommend adopting a proactive mindset, acknowledging inequities head-on, and implementing a comprehensive backup plan for technological issues.

They explain that fostering connections between the applicant and current fellows is essential for future mentorship opportunities and without the in-person environment, these opportunities are limited. Programs can promote interactivity by creating virtual break-out rooms with a limited number of applicants and fellows.

While the virtual shift affects all programs, those most impacted have fewer trainees and are in more remote or less populous regions, according to the authors. However, 2020’s virtual interview platform proved successful in increasing interest in these programs due to reduced time and travel commitments. “Many smaller programs felt they had a greater number of underrepresented minorities and women apply. Previous limited experience with virtual interviews have indeed confirmed that reduced financial travel burden can promote applicant diversity,” the authors add.

"Fellowship programs across the country learned valuable lessons in recruitment during the COVID-19 pandemic that will serve all stakeholders well for the future,” the authors conclude. “The virtual platform provides certain benefits to both applicants and cardiovascular programs by enabling greater access to all applicants and should be considered in future recruitment cycles ... The conversation for a hybrid interview platform must begin now. The cardiovascular fellowship community has a real opportunity to shape this process so that it provides advantages to both applicants and programs.

Keywords: Mentors, Fellowships and Scholarships, COVID-19, Education, Medical, Graduate, Training Support

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