June 12, 2020
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced us to rethink the application and interview process for medical students, residents, and fellows. To prioritize safety and reduce the risk of infection to students, faculty, and staff, the interview portion of the application process will be conducted virtually. In addition, the introduction to medical school for incoming first-year students has been modified.
Our Office of Admissions and Student Affairs has already begun online communications with the McGovern Medical School Class of 2024. Welcome Weekend, normally held in March, was cancelled. To fill the void, regularly scheduled videos have been sent to our incoming students, introducing a variety of programs that make McGovern Medical School a special place. Our pre-entry program, a four-week program offered to incoming students, is also transitioning to an online format for the first time. And the school’s beloved freshman retreat has been cancelled for this year.
This has been a challenging year for applicants—fears of the unknown during the pandemic, separation from friends and family, school disruptions, delays in the MCAT exam, among other challenges. We are mindful of the stress of this complex year with the added stress of applying to medical school and are committed to making the process as helpful to students as we can. TMDSAS has extended the admissions season by a month due to COVID-19.
We are introducing a new virtual interview this year. We expect to interview between 900 and 1,000 students and will begin interviews in August. Even though we will be interviewing candidates virtually, the interview day will be similar to years past. Students invited for an interview will have two interviews, at least one with a faculty member. Applicants also will speak with an online student panel. As Dr. LaTanya Love, associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, says, “We have to remain flexible.”
The Graduate Medical Education Office has already started the online interviewing process for some of its more than 100 residency and fellowship programs. “We have never done anything like this on this scale before,” noted Pamela Promecene, MD, assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education.
In-person interviews help applicants understand the “intangibles” of the program and the environment. Although challenging, the GME office and individual programs will try to personalize the online format, so that applicants get to know us even if they cannot be here in person.
Programs are working quickly to coordinate online interviews, learning new technologies and considering ways to accurately showcase programs virtually. This is a monumental effort. We recruit over 400 residents and fellows each year into 24 residency and 103 fellowship programs. Some programs are small with only 1-2 recruits each year while others are large core programs that fill 30-50 first-year positions, interviewing hundreds out of thousands of applications.
Going to an online interview format for our MD and postgraduate training programs has required enormous hard work, an innovative spirit, increased use of technology, and flexibility. Please join me in thanking the many people who have been part of this remarkable transition. It is likely that our application processes will be forever changed. Let’s hope that our new online format proves to be an even better (and more affordable) process for both students and the school.