The deans of University of California Health’s six medical schools, which include UC San Diego, announced Tuesday that all medical school, residency and fellowship interviews for the 2020-21 academic year will be held in a virtual format to alleviate coronavirus-related travel concerns.
“We want to create an equitable process for all,” said Dr. Cathryn Nation, vice president of health sciences for University of California Health. “Applicants to UC medical schools and residency programs rigorously prepare academically and usually travel for in-person panel interviews. We don’t want these individuals to feel their chance for success is influenced by their ability to appear in-person at this time when the risk of coronavirus transmission remains a very real concern.”
About 3,500 students are enrolled in University of California Health’s medical schools — which also include UCLA Health, UCI Health, UC Riverside Health, UC Davis Health and UCSF Health — and around 5,600 residents and fellows are advancing their post-graduation training in UC and affiliated hospitals.
Nation said the announcement was made at the start of summer so that prospective students, residents and fellows can plan and prepare appropriately.
Prospective medical school students typically submit their applications through the American Medical College Application Service in the summer, with some applicants starting interviews in the fall. Those who apply for residencies submit applications by October.
Students typically apply for fellowships, a phase of subspecialty training immediately after completion of residency, throughout the year depending on the area of specialization.
According to UC Health officials, the shift to all remote interviewing was driven by a variety of factors, including:
— limitations in commercial air travel, particularly for those who do not live near major hubs;
— resurgence of COVID-19, potentially complicated by seasonal influenza, which may occur as shelter in place orders are lifted and will then require reinstitution of those orders;
— disrupted required clinical rotations from the spring, which may need to be scheduled well into the usual interview season for senior students, making scheduling of cross-country trips very challenging; and
— the recession and growing unemployment, which may cause students and their families significant financial hardships.
“We are adapting in real-time to unprecedented circumstances that disrupt typical practices,” said Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president of the University of California Health. “The shift to online interviews is consistent with our public health response to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Our goal is to support all applicants in pursuing their dreams without the additional stress related to the cost, logistics, and transmission risk associated with interview travels.”
This spring, UC medical schools also moved to an online format for 2020 Match Day ceremonies where graduating medical students learn where they will serve their residencies.
–City News Service