Vascular In-person for Students In the match Trial (VISIT): An Investigation of Post-interview Site Visits to Address the Limitations of Virtual Interviews
David Rigberg1, Ting Sun2, Benjamin Pearce3, Misty Humphries4, Malachi Sheahan5, Dawn Coleman6, Jason Lee7, Brigitte Smith8
1UCLA, Los Angeles, CA;2University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT;3University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL;4University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA;5LSU, New Orleans, LA;6Duke, Raleigh, NC;7Stanford, Palo Alto, CA;8University of Utah, Salt Lake City, CA
INTRODUCTION: The graduate medical education community implemented virtual residency interviews in response to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this approach has persisted. Although many residency applicants wish to visit prospective training sites outside the auspices of the interview, such interactions could bias programs toward applicants who are able to meet the financial burden of travel, exacerbating equity concerns. One proposed solution is the opportunity to visit after a program’s rank list is “locked,” avoiding favoritism to applicants who visit. The Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery designed this study to determine whether such in-person program visits provide meaningful benefits to applicants in the match process.METHODS: All programs entering the 2023 integrated vascular surgery residency match were invited to participate. Programs agreed to certify their National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) rank lists by February 15, 2023. Following this date, applicants could then visit programs at which they interviewed. The particulars of the visit were determined by the programs. Applicants completed a survey regarding the impact of the visits on their rank order list. Program Directors (PDs) completed a survey regarding their experiences as well. Data were collected using REDCap.RESULTS: Twenty-one of the 74 programs participated (30%). 19 PDs completed the post-interview site visit survey (RR 90%). Applicants interviewing at the participating programs (n = 112) were informed of the study, offered the opportunity to attend post-interview site visits, and received the survey. 47 applicants responded (RR 42%). 58% of applicants stated the visit impacted their rank list. Most important factors were esprit de corps of the program (86%) the people (81%), and physical setting (62%). 70 percent of those participating spent <$800 on their visit. 81 percent were satisfied with the process. 21 percent of PDs would have changed their rank list if they could have based on the visit. 63 percent of the visit sessions cost <$500, and 63% were satisfied with the process.
CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to document the impact of in-person site visits by applicants on a graduate medical education match process in one specialty. More than half of applicants after visiting the programs in person changed their rank list, highlighting the additional knowledge gained over virtual only interviews. Our results reinforce the insight gained by potential trainees with visiting a program. In addition, we provide a possible solution to aid in student decision making while tempering the potential for financial bias.
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