By Kamyar Ghabili, MD
COVID-19’s effects on the radiology residency match were numerous and widespread. Beginning in March 2020, administrative bodies, including the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), Association of Program Directors in Radiology (APDR), and the Association of Program Directors in Interventional Radiology (APDIR), released changes to the standard residency application process. These changes included canceling away electives, delaying the opening of the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for residency programs as well as the release of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), and moving to virtual interviews.1 Therefore, programs portrayed themselves in unique ways to facilitate applicant exposure and fill the void, including offering virtual open houses and electives, updating websites, and developing social media presences.
Of note, social media has had a growing role in the residency applicant decision-making process. Approximately three-quarters of the radiology residency candidates interviewing at the University of Maryland during the 2020-2021 match cycle reported using social media to learn more about the program.2
Likewise, during the 2021-2022 match cycle, I used social media, primarily Twitter, to learn about the radiology residency programs and register for virtual open houses. After a few earlier virtual meet-and-greets, I realized that some medical students and residency applicants were unable to attend or missed the main parts of these meetings due to clinical duties or overlap with other virtual open houses. Moreover, some international medical graduates (IMGs) joined the virtual open houses after midnight in their local time.
To reduce radiology applicants’ possible anxiety about not being able to attend a virtual open house, a group of radiology match applicants and I formed the Radiology Applicant Working Group in August 2021. Our group aimed to cover virtual open houses of radiology residency programs in the 2021-2022 match cycle by looking for volunteers from match applicants through social media. Each volunteer then attended an open house based on their preference, took notes, and posted take-home points on Twitter shortly after the open house. Moreover, we created a Twitter account (@RadApplWG) for the working group to promote tweets about radiology virtual open houses and other relevant online information useful for the radiology applicants in the match cycle.
In the 2021-2022 radiology match cycle, our working group covered 28 virtual open houses and posted Twitter threads about highlights from those meetings. Our volunteers demonstrated their teamwork and summarizing skills and benefitted from a rise in their professional visibility on social media during the match cycle. In addition, our Twitter account promoted and retweeted hundreds of application-related posts for radiology applicants. The Radiology Applicant Working Group provided a unique opportunity for further promotion of program strengths while also allowing a modality of radiology applicant-program interaction and direct communication not previously available.
The AAMC has recommended continuing the virtual interview experiment for the 2022-2023 residency match cycle. Therefore, programs would be best served by following the trend of increasing their visibility by creating curated social media accounts, updating program websites regularly, and offering online experiences for applicants to learn about them, including virtual open houses. In the Radiology Applicant Working Group, we hope to continue supporting radiology applicants by having more volunteers attend virtual open houses during the upcoming match cycle.
In line with other residency applicant support platforms, including Inside the Match, Radiology Student Interest Group, and Future Radiology Residents, our working group is looking forward to sharing useful posts with radiology match applicants on Twitter.
Kamyar Ghabili, MD, is an international medical graduate from Tabriz, Iran, who has co-authored more than 130 research publications. He completed two years of preliminary general surgery training at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut in 2021. A founder of the Radiology Applicant Working Group, he applied for diagnostic radiology residency in the 2021-2022 cycle and matched at Penn State Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He is currently doing research in the interventional oncology lab at the Yale School of Medicine Department of Radiology. His hobbies include swimming, pottery, and cooking. You can follow him on Twitter @kghabili.
Dr. Ghabili was invited to share his opinions using this forum. Edits by ABR staff were made for style or clarity.
- Nguyen JK, Shah N, Heitkamp DE, Gupta Y. COVID-19 and the Radiology Match: A Residency Program’s Survival Guide to the Virtual Interview Season. Acad Radiol. 2020;27(9):1294-1297.
- Czawlytko C, Smith E, Awan O, Resnik C, Hossain R. The Effect of Virtual Interviews and Social Media on Applicant Decision-Making During The 2020-2021 Resident Match Cycle. Acad Radiol. 2022;29(6):928-934.