Initiation of the Virtual Interview: A 5-Y Evaluation of General Surgery Residency Match Results

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Journal of Surgical Research


Introduction: The virtual residency application season posed numerous challenges for the 2021 residency match process. Many residency programs are exploring relationships between this novel format and the match process. The purpose of this study was to compare one of the largest general surgery residency program's applications and match data from preCOVID years to the 2021 virtual cycle. Materials and methods: A retrospective review was performed of applicants to a single general surgery residency program from 2017 to 2021. The primary outcome was the number of locally matched applicants. The secondary outcomes were the total number of applications, change in applicant demographics, and variability of the geographic spread during this study period. Chi-square tests of independence, Fisher's exact tests, and negative binomial regression were performed. Results: 6819 applicants were included in the study. In 2021, an increase in applications was observed. The distribution of 2021 applications was statistically different from previous years regarding gender and race (P < 0.0001). The 2021 application cycle had a greater proportion of applicants from the United States (P < 0.0001) and southern US medical schools (P = 0.008). While the 2021 cycle had significantly more interviews (P = 0.013), there were no significant differences in the demographic composition of interviewees. During the 2021 application year, all 11 matches were from southern medical schools and there was a trend to more matched female applicants compared to previous years. Conclusions: During the 2021 COVID-19 virtual match cycle, an increase in both the number of applications and number of interviews for general surgery residency was identified. The characteristics of applicants who interviewed and matched were not different when compared to previous years. As virtual interviews may become more commonplace, it is important to assess all factors that may be involved in the dynamic residency application process.

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