COVID-19 and Residents: Frequently Asked Questions
(Version 1.1; last updated October 6, 2020)
Input from Drs. Hanny Al-Samkari, Julia Close, Urshila Durani, Srikanth Nagalla, Elaine Muchmore, Ida Wong-Sefidan
See General Tips for Trainees for FAQs on virtual interviews, virtual talks, productivity and wellness.
Note: Please review ASH's disclaimer regarding the use of the following information.
What aspects of program websites should applicants focus on when screening programs virtually?
Try to assess the number of faculty and their expertise, whether program strengths match the breadth of your interests, the research accomplishments of fellows, and the types of jobs graduates have secured after fellowship. You can also speak to current fellows for additional information prior to applying. Websites may also post the schedule for review of applications and when interview invitations are sent.
How many programs should an applicant apply to?
This is highly variable depending upon the strength of your application, geographical restrictions, your career goals and your specialty. According to the AAMC 2018 data, adult hematology-oncology fellowship program applicants apply to an average of 25-30 Hematology/Oncology programs.
How many interviews should be scheduled?
It is recommended that no more than 10-12 interviews be scheduled.
Should any parts of the application be emphasized because of the pandemic (e.g., different rotations, telemedicine or virtual technologies)?
Any contributions or learning experiences that were unique and could make your application stand out, such as experience with telemedicine or leadership roles, should be emphasized. If you were at a disadvantage because some planned rotations were changed or cancelled, this should also be discussed so that the program director can address whether there are opportunities for additional experiences in those domains before your interviews.
Should applicants refrain from changing geographic location between residency and fellowship because of COVID-19?
If there are no personal or family circumstances preventing relocation, applicants should choose a program that would be a good fit. Geographic aspects may be important, and if details about the community are not available on the program website, applicants should reach out to program leadership and current fellows for more information.
Will I be at a disadvantage if I do a virtual interview?
Most programs will have a uniform interview process for all applicants. Virtual interviews will be the standard for most programs across the country so you will not be at a specific disadvantage due to a virtual interview. See General Trainee FAQs [link] for tips about virtual interviews.
Should I be concerned that my virtual interview will be recorded?
Since the virtual interview process is new to fellowship programs, review of interviews by the selection committee may be requested. Do not refuse to have your interview recorded if this request is made. It is likely that everyone participating in this process will be nervous (interviewers included!), so try not to worry about this aspect.
Will applicants who travel to programs for a “second look” after a virtual interview have an advantage?
Programs understand the difficult circumstances for travel during this interview season. Programs are taking care to weigh all applicants fairly and not assume there would be higher interest from applicants who volunteer to travel to programs for a “second look”. Some institutions are actually disallowing face-to-face second looks, given the possibility that this process would heavily favor local applicants. However, if you are really interested in a program continued contact with that program may be beneficial. You can express your interest or ask to be connected with additional faculty that you did not get a chance to interview with.
Any advice for residents about visa concerns?
- Talk to your embassy and institutional officials, such as departmental administrators and the GME office. Let them know your situation and seek their advice and help.
- Identify colleagues who may have similar concerns as you. Team up to develop strategies and solutions. You are not alone.
- You may need to consider speaking to an immigration attorney.
For additional information, see: