Effect of virtual interviewing on applicant approach to and perspective of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Subspecialty Fellowship Match

Adam K. Lewkowitz, Patrick S. Ramsey, Dayna Burrell, Torri D. Metz, Janine S. Rhoades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The 2020 application cycle for the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialty Fellowship Match was the first to be exclusively virtual. OBJECTIVE: Our study was designed to compare approaches and perspectives of the MFM fellowship candidates who applied with virtual interviews with those of the current Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows, who applied with in-person interviews in 2017, 2018, or 2019. STUDY DESIGN: A survey was developed by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship Affairs Committee to ascertain applicant approaches to and perspectives of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship Match and was disseminated after 2020 Maternal-Fetal Medicine interviews ended and completed before Fellowship Match Day. Participants were contacted by means of active Listservs maintained by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Current fellows were instructed to complete the survey using their experiences on the application cycle in which they successfully matched. Those who elected to participate entered their survey responses through the electronic link; answers were recorded in a secure Research Electronic Data Capture database. Outcomes were compared between those who applied during the virtual 2020 Maternal-Fetal Medicine interview cycle and those that applied during the in-person interview cycles in 2017, 2018, or 2019. RESULTS: Of the 140 completed surveys, 46 people participated in the 2020 Maternal-Fetal Medicine Match and were categorized as “virtual applicants,” whereas the remaining 94 people participated in the 2017 (n=28), 2018 (n=33), or 2019 (n=33) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Match and were categorized as “in-person applicants.” The overall distribution of number of programs to which each applicant applied differed between groups (P=.02); for example, nearly 75% of virtual applicants applied to at least 25 fellowship programs, compared with less than 50% of in-person applicants. Although the number of interviews received was similar between virtual and in-person applicants, virtual applicants were significantly less likely to cancel scheduled interviews (n=18 [39.1%] vs n=68 [72.3%]; P<.001). There were also differences between virtual and in-person applicants in terms of overall cost of the fellowship intervention process and total days away from work for interviewing (P<.001 for both). In particular, nearly two-thirds of virtual applicants reported spending less than $1000 in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship application process, compared with the nearly two-thirds of in-person applicants who reported spending more than $5000. Among the 46 virtual applicants, nearly 80% reported the experience was better or slightly better than expected, and none reported the experience was slightly worse or worse than expected. Nearly two-thirds of the virtual applicants reported that, compared with their in-person residency interviews, they received a comparable representation of Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship programs and could effectively assess their “fit” during interviews (60.9% and 63.0%, respectively). Only 20% of virtual Maternal-Fetal Medicine applicants would recommend returning to exclusive in-person interviews should that be possible in future Maternal-Fetal Medicine matches. CONCLUSION: Virtual Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship interviewing was viewed favorably by applicants but corresponded with significant changes to their application approaches. The differences between virtual and in-person fellowship applicant tendencies identified in this study should inform next year's application cycle for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and possibly other obstetrics and gynecology subspecialty fellowships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100326
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Maternal-Fetal Medicine
  • fellowship interviews
  • virtual interviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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