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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Calming Troubled Waters: A Narrative Review of Challenges and Potential Solutions in the Residency Interview Offer Process


The rising numbers of residency applications along with fears of a constrained graduate medical education environment have created pressures on residency applicants. Anecdotal evidence suggests substantial challenges with the process of offering residency interviews. This narrative review is designed to identify and propose solutions for the current problems in the process of offering residency interviews. We used PubMed and web browser searches to identify relevant studies and reports. Materials were assessed for relevance to the current process of distributing residency interviews. There is limited relevant literature and the quality is poor overall. We were able to identify several key problem areas including uncertain timing of interview offers; disruption caused by the timing of interview offers; imbalance of interview offers and available positions; and a lack of clarity around waitlist and rejection status. In addition, the couples match and need for coordination of interviews creates a special case. Many of the problems related to residency interview offers are amenable to program-level interventions, which may serve as best practices for residency programs, focusing on clear communication of processes as well as attention to factors such as offer-timing and numbers. We provide potential strategies for programs as well as a call for additional research to better understand the problem and solutions.

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