ACC Survey Assesses In-Person vs. Virtual Fellowship Interviews

When interviewing for cardiovascular disease fellowship programs, fellows in training (FITs) prefer an in-person element, which helps determine whether the program is the right fit for them, according to results from an ACC survey published July 24 in JACC.

Jonathan R. Salik, MD, MS-HPED, FACC, a past member of ACC’s Program Directors and Graduate Medical Educators Section Leadership Council, et al., conducted an online, anonymous survey to analyze the interview format preferences of FITs when interviewing for cardiovascular disease fellowship programs. The survey included data from FITs who applied to cardiovascular disease general and subspecialty fellowships between 2018 and 2021.

A total of 615 FITs completed the survey; 64% were men, 34% were women and 2% declined to specify gender. Of the 615 participants, 191 FITs (31%) participated in in-person interviews, 396 (64%) participated in virtual interviews and 28 (5%) participated in a hybrid interview model.

Results showed that FITs who underwent in-person interviews applied to fewer programs than FITs who underwent virtual or hybrid interviews. Participants who interviewed in person reported that they were better able to meet their peers and mentors as well as understand the program culture and workspaces, while participants who interviewed virtually reported that their process was convenient and less of a financial burden. Of note, the median cost spent on cardiovascular disease fellowship interviews decreased from $2,500 in 2018 to 2019 to $250 in 2020 to 2021.

However, the surveyed FITs noted that they prefer an in-person element when going through the fellowship interview process as socializing with current fellows, meeting faculty and potential mentors, and touring hospital facilities were ranked above convenience and cost for importance.

The authors conclude that alternative approaches to the interview process are needed to blend the interview formats that are currently used. Incorporating in-person events for FITs interviewing for cardiovascular disease fellowships without sacrificing cost and convenience is essential moving forward.

Keywords: Fellowships and Scholarships, Cardiovascular Diseases

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