A Recipe for Success: Virtual Alternatives to Residency Pre-Interview Receptions

The COVID-19 pandemic forced sweeping changes to graduate medical education over the last several months, and as we plan for the new academic year, it is clear that residency recruitment will fundamentally change as well. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a position statement encouraging medical school, residency, and faculty interviews to be held virtually [1]. While there is precedent for holding residency and fellowship interviews online [2-4], these new circumstances present significant challenges for applicants and residency programs alike.

One important change will be the loss of the pre-interview reception. Information exchange between students and residents over dinner at these receptions influences rank order list decisions [5,6]. These receptions provide opportunities for applicants to learn about resident life, satisfaction with their training, cost of living, and many other topics not authentically covered during the interview day. How can residency programs address the information gaps that will result from the loss of pre-interview receptions? Well-designed virtual receptions can provide a unique welcome to applicants and a means to communicate directly with faculty and residents. Here are some suggestions for the use of video conferencing to create ‘virtual receptions.’