This is a national, multi-specialty survey of ObGyn scholarship applicants conducted to determine if the virtual interview process was effective for the purpose of creating a ranked list. Our data indicates that a majority of 129/158 respondents (81.6%) for ObGyn Subspecialty Fellowships found the virtual interview process to provide enough information and provide an adequate impression of the programs to inform capacity. candidates to create ranking lists. Almost all respondents 146/148 (98.6%) cited cost savings as a benefit, and a large majority found virtual interviews to be less stressful or about the same 136/150 (90.7% ) than face-to-face interviews.
While virtual interviewing has been used in smaller settings before, 2020 was the first year it was adopted on such a large scale due to COVID restrictions, raising the question of its effectiveness for in-game ranking. of sub-specialty. The candidate perspective for FPMRS candidates, who were interviewed during the first phase of the pandemic, showed similar results, with overall ability to create a ranked list, satisfaction with the process and cost and stress reduction benefits.  Ding et al. also interviewed candidates for several sub-specialties and found that strengths of the virtual platform included cost savings and ease of scheduling interviews, but noted uncertainty about the ability to create a roster of classification.  Our larger, broader study supports some of their findings, including the obvious financial benefit, but found that virtual interviews were adequate for creating a ranking list.
Across all subspecialties, almost all applicants 146/158 (92.4%) were satisfied or very satisfied with the process, although responses were divided on preferences for interview format. Given the unfamiliarity and variability of the virtual interview format, it’s understandable that candidates weren’t as willing to commit to a preference. Applicants from the Midwest were more likely than those from other regions to prefer the virtual platform, perhaps due to the significant travel distances and, therefore, higher expenses for in-person interviews.
Importantly, 69% of respondents noted an overall decrease in stress from virtual interviews compared to in-person interviews. The general perception that virtual interviews are less stressful may have implications for resident well-being. Increased resident debt has also been found to correlate with lower quality of life and higher rates of burnout.  Although the socio-economic status of residents is somewhat difficult to determine, many residents are burdened with debt and a recent AAMC report showed that the average resident debt is $200,000.  Our data suggests that 20% of scholarship applicants have considered taking on more debt to apply for the scholarship with the traditional in-person format.
As institutions work to reduce stress and prevent burnout among trainees, examining the conversion to virtual interviews could help alleviate stress and improve well-being for residents considering a fellowship. . Planned expenditures for face-to-face interviews were similar to those reported by other specialties. [2, 4, 17, 20] Almost all candidates cite the dramatic reduction in actual expenses for virtual interviews as a significant benefit. Tseng et al. found that scholarship applicants during COVID 19 saved nearly $6,000 in travel costs for interviews.  In 2014, Iqbal et al. reported that the amount spent on the interview process was the only predictor of matching compared to no matching with ObGyn subspecialties, those who spent more had a higher match rate.19 Lower costs can reduce the debt burden of applicants and also attract residents who otherwise might not consider applying for scholarships; moving to virtual interviews could therefore theoretically improve diversity among scholarship applicants.
Our study has many strengths, including the wide range of ObGyn subspecialties and the wide range of applicants to multiple programs, encompassing a national sample of ObGyn subspecialty applicants. Most previous applicant surveys, on the other hand, surveyed applicants to single institutions or specialties and consisted of smaller sample sizes or a lower response rate. [17, 22] It is important to note that our survey was developed by a team of investigators, reviewed by members of COFTOG, administered for accuracy to an internal group of fellows, and piloted on the subset of undergraduate applicants. -FPMRS specialty, who were in a previous match cycle. The anonymous and voluntary survey, which was rigorously developed by the investigators, followed the CHERRIES criteria. The timing of the survey, administered after match lists were submitted and before match results were released, was planned to eliminate bias and concerns that responses might affect match results and vice versa.
This study has some limitations. While a 48% response rate might be considered low, it is actually reasonable for an online physician survey, especially given its short administration time and survey and survey fatigue. emails that may have been more prevalent during the pandemic.  A convenience sample was used for this study, with surveys sent only to applicants in subspecialties whose program directors were willing to participate and provide contacts to applicants, thus possibly introducing sampling bias. The survey focused on time spent away from work, but did not specifically ask about the effect of virtual versus in-person interviews on family responsibilities, which may have been an additional barrier for applicants. . Respondents were allowed to omit questions, possibly introducing response bias. Finally, lack of data on candidates for reproductive endocrinology and infertility and pediatric and adolescent gynecology limits generalizability to these areas.
As the graduate medical education (GME) community prepares for future scholarship interview seasons that may require a virtual platform, the process will become more familiar. In addition, this generation of interns, heavily financially indebted and subject to professional and personal time constraints, is already accustomed to virtual meetings. Surveying all graduating residents would provide a clearer picture of how the cost of maintenance affects the decision to apply or not. Suggestions for addressing the perceived drawbacks of virtual interviews, based on the responses from this study, are listed in Table 3.