The Impact of the COVID‐19 Pandemic on the 2020 Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship Application Cycle: A Survey of Program Directors – DiGiusto – – Pediatric Anesthesia

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need to produce a virtual system for the Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship Cycle 2019-2020. With fellowship interviews starting in April 2020, there was minimal time for programs to adjust. Each program quickly developed its own platform, expectations, materials and process for interviews – all under the stress of managing the unfolding patient care, financial and leadership crises of the unfolding pandemic.

Targets

The purpose of this survey-based research was to help identify changes compared to past traditional cycles, obstacles encountered and program directors’ attitudes towards them, and possible future virtual application cycles. We report separately the results of an applicant-based survey on the 2020 virtual interview cycle1.

Methods:

A 50-question survey was developed using Qualtrics. An anonymous survey link was sent to all pediatric anesthesiology program directors with an invitation to one program leader (either the program director or assistant/associate program director, but not both) from each program to complete the voluntary survey.

Result

30 respondents completed the survey, for a 50% response rate based on the 60 ACGME-approved pediatric anesthesiology grants. Compared to previous traditional cycles, almost half of respondents (14/29, 48.3%) reported no increase in the number of applications received, and a majority of respondents (16/29, 55.2%) reported the same number of job interviews offered spots for the year. The virtual interview process seems to run smoothly with most programs reporting that they never or rarely had technical problems in a number of different domains. Importantly, the majority of respondents were somewhat or very satisfied (21/28, 75%) with the overall virtual interview process. Given the choice of the desired interview format in the future, half of the respondents (14/28) would offer a combination of traditional and virtual interviews.

conclusions

These results show that virtual interviews are a viable alternative to traditional interviews and can be conducted without many technological complications. PDs were generally satisfied with virtual interviews, although they did not have the appropriate time to plan and coordinate, and would be interested in pursuing this option in the future. There are areas where improvements could be made and with the right planning an attempt could be made to reduce some of the areas where virtual interviews do not measure up to traditional interviews. Combined with our previously published survey of applicants1, this data provides a more complete picture of future best practices for virtual interviews.

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