Initially, I imagined this virtual residency interview season would be a struggle in terms of getting a good feel for a residency program. While I do believe it is more difficult to grasp the culture of the program over webcam and miss the opportunity to visit each hospital in person, I am impressed with how many programs have made great efforts to ameliorate what we are missing from real-life visits. There are advantages and disadvantages of virtual interviewing, and I have come to appreciate what virtual interviewing offers.
The primary advantage, in my opinion, to this interview season, is that we save enormous amounts of money from not traveling. As a broke medical student, this is very nice; it also helps that we do not have to take as many days off from our rotations to attend interviews. Often times, interviews only take half a day over the web so that you can go about the rest of your day without interruption. Beyond being cost and schedule-friendly, I appreciate the lengths programs have gone to make our experience as normal as possible. Some create extensive websites with numerous videos taking you on a virtual tour of the hospital, and showing you what “a day in the life of a resident” looks like. Videos including hearing from the program director and faculty are often included so that you can hear what they would have conveyed to you during the interview day. Sometimes, programs even send you care packages in the mail either pre or post-interview to include what they would have gifted you during an in-person interview day!
The cons to virtual interviewing, as mentioned above, are not being able to grasp as well the overall feel for a program despite programs’ best efforts to provide a comprehensive virtual experience. Nothing can replace visiting a hospital in person and having real-life interactions with faculty, residents, and program directors. Additionally, we are unable to visit the cities these hospitals are located in, which can often play a significant role in determining our rank list.