Differences in Applicant Perceptions of Virtual Interviews Between Integrated Plastic Surgery and Subspecialty Fellowship Applicants

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of surgical education








COVID; applicant perceptions; plastic surgery; virtual interview


OBJECTIVE: We aim to survey and compare integrated plastic surgery and plastic surgery subspecialty fellowship applicants on their experiences with virtual interviews and to determine if there are differences between them. DESIGN: An IRB-approved survey study was conducted using the Qualtrics platform. SETTING: The study was conducted at the Johns Hopkins University and the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore Maryland. PARTICIPANTS: Applicants that applied to 1) the Johns Hopkins/University of Maryland or the University of California San Diego integrated plastic surgery residency programs, 2) craniofacial surgery fellowship, and 3) microsurgery, hand surgery, or burn surgery fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University were selected to participate in the survey. RESULTS: A total of 94 surveys were completed by residency applicants and 55 by fellowship applicants. After the interview season, 80% of fellowship applicants recommended virtual interviews compared to 61.7% of residency applicants (p = 0.03). Fellowship applicants reported significantly less issues with self-advocacy and did not view the virtual interview process as significant of a detriment when meeting program residents/staff, viewing the hospital/surrounding area, and learning about the program (p < 0.05). A higher percentage of fellowship applicants interviewed at multiple programs during a single day compared to residency applicants (56.4% vs 27.7%; p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: A higher proportion of fellowship applicants prefer virtual interviews, which associated with key differences in perceptions, expectations, and priorities. Our data supports that fellowship programs may wish to continue virtual interviews even after COVID-related restrictions are lifted, because fellows are equally able to self-advocate in a virtual format while benefiting from cost and time savings; fellowship programs would also gain the cost and time savings from this model as well.


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