AACOM, Coalition for Physician Accountability Release Virtual Interview Recommendations for 2021-22 Residency Season

Published August 24, 2021



(Bethesda, MD)- Today, a working group of the Coalition for Physician Accountability released new guidance on interviewing during the 2021-22 residency season for medical education institutions considering applicants from LCME-accredited, U.S. osteopathic, and non-U.S. medical schools.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is a member of the Coalition, a cross-organizational group of national medical education organizations.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Recommendation 1: Conduct Virtual Interviews for the 2021-22 Recruitment Cycle Interest exists to extend a consistent approach to in-person interviews for the 2021-22 residency cycle; however, recognizing the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the near certainty, given insufficient national vaccination rates, that the pandemic will continue into the winter, albeit in unpredictable ways, the WG offers the following recommendation that we hope will minimize public health risks, mitigate inequity stemming from geographic variations in pandemic impact, and provide applicants, their advisors, and programs with guidance to promote consistency and decrease anxiety.

    All interviews should be conducted virtually for the 2021-22 recruitment cycle due to growing concerns about the delta variant and potential risks and disruptions from potential future variants.
  • Programs should work to create a continuous, evidenced-based, standardized process to prioritize safety of applicants and others involved in the recruitment process; mitigate bias wherever it exists; and establish a consistent, fair, and equitable approach to reviewing and interviewing all applicants.
  • Programs should communicate their plans to medical schools and applicants as soon as possible.
  • Programs should extend effort to address the concerns about transparency raised during the 2020-21 cycle with a plan to disclose information about culture; community, patient population, physician, and other health care provider diversity; and concerns regarding variations in training and educational models.
  • Medical schools should provide guidance and advice about best practices for virtual interviewing and, if available, offer technical support and space for students who need to complete virtual interviews on campus.
  • Recommendation 2: Increase Our Understanding of Virtual Interviewing

    The medical education community should assess the value of virtual interviews and the concerns associated with them that were evident during the 2020-21 interview cycle.

    A research agenda supporting discovery and mitigation of biases introduced by virtual interviewing should begin this year.
  • A rigorous research agenda will require well-defined metrics and available mechanisms to collect and share data; therefore, specialties, institutions, and programs are encouraged to collaborate to support improvements in the interviewing process and share findings with the community.
  • Organizations should collect and share data on actual placement impacts during the 2021-22 interview cycle and changes from previous cycles.
  • The WG encourages research questions that cover a range of topics that examine the impact of in-person and virtual interviews on recruitment and selection, identify inequities, and share best practices. Some examples may include:
    • Studying the conditions in the virtual interview environment that affect selection bias by both programs and applicants.
    • Describing applicant characteristics that are subject to bias during virtual interviews and in ranking behavior. Identify best practices for mitigating these biases. Compare and contrast how these same applicant characteristics, biases, and mitigation strategies correlate with in-person interviews.
    • Outlining best practices for identifying and mitigating biases during virtual interviewing for applicants and programs.
    • Determining the impact of time and cost savings on the number of virtual interviews candidates completed. What is the impact on match rates?
    • Exploring alignment of applicant and program values before and after virtual interviewing.
    • Exploring the impact of cognitive load on interviewers’ scores that result from completing more interviews and establishing best practices for mitigation.
    • Standardizing the residency interview day using best practices for the virtual medium.
    • Studying the impact of virtual interviewing on training sites that are historically difficult to fill (e.g., rural, newly accredited, federally qualified health center).
    • Identifying characteristics (i.e., small vs. large specialty, rural vs. urban) of programs conducting virtual interviews that received more applicants than expected. Similarly, identify characteristics of programs that received fewer applicants than expected.
    • Determining whether virtual (compared to in-person) interviews affect match rates.
    • Exploring whether applicant training/career choice and satisfaction have changed since the introduction of virtual interviews.

This guidance is intended to add to, but not supersede, the independent judgment of a medical school, sponsoring institution, or residency program regarding the immediate needs of its patients and the preparation of its learners. Acknowledging that these recommendations cannot address every eventuality, they are offered to provide the best path forward to promote consistency and fairness across the country and to reinforce our commitment to an equitable process for all. See the full update here.


The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) leads and advocates for the full continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the public. Founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, AACOM represents all 37 colleges of osteopathic medicine—educating nearly 34,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all US medical students—at 58 teaching locations in 33 US states, as well as osteopathic graduate medical education professionals and trainees at US medical centers, hospitals, clinics and health systems.


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