Students’ Perspectives and Concerns for the 2020 to 2021 Radiation Oncology Interview Season

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Recently, the Coalition for Physician Accountability Work Group on Medical Students in the Class of 2021 recommended limiting visiting medical student rotations, conducting virtual residency interviews, and delaying the standard application timeline owing to the ongoing corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These changes create both challenges and opportunities for medical students and radiation oncology residency programs. We conducted a comprehensive needs assessment to prepare for a virtual recruitment season, including a focus group of senior medical students seeking careers in oncology. Methods and Materials: A single 1.5-hour focus group was conducted with 10 third- and fourth-year medical students using Zoom videoconferencing software. Participants shared opinions relating to visibility of residency programs, virtual clerkship experiences, expectations for program websites, and remote interviews. The focus group recording was transcribed and analyzed independently by 3 authors. Participants’ statements were abstracted into themes via inductive content analysis. Results: Inductive content analysis of the focus group transcript identified several potential challenges surrounding virtual recruitment, including learning the culture of a program and/or city, obtaining accurate information about training programs, and uncertainty surrounding the best way to present themselves during a virtual interview season. In the present environment, the focus group participants anticipate relying more on departmental websites and telecommunications because in-person interactions will be limited. In addition, students perceived that the educational yield of a virtual clerkship would be low, particularly if an in-person rotation had already been completed at another institution. Conclusions: With the COVID-19 crisis limiting visiting student rotations and programs transitioning to hosting remote interviews, we recommend programs focus resources toward portraying the culture of their program and city, accurately depicting program information, and offering virtual electives or virtual interaction to increase applicant exposure to residency program culture.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Everett AS; Strickler S; Marcrom SR; McDonald AM
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1