Benefits and Limitations of Virtual Recruitment: Perspectives From Subspeciality Directors

Tara L. Petersen, Jennifer C. King, Jill J. Fussell, Hayley A. Gans, Linda A. Waggoner-Fountain, Danny Castro, Michael L. Green, Melinda F. Hamilton, Karen Marcdante, Richard Mink, Katie R. Nielsen, David A. Turner, Christopher M. Watson, Adrian D. Zurca, Donald L. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Because of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and recommendations from a range of leaders and organizations, the pediatrics subspecialty 2020 recruitment season was entirely virtual. Minimal data exist on the effect of this change to guide future strategies. The aim of this study was to understand the effects of virtual recruitment on pediatric subspecialty programs as perceived by program leaders. METHODS: This concurrent, triangulation, mixed-methods study used a survey that was developed through an iterative (3 cycles), consensus-building, modified Delphi process and sent to all pediatric subspecialty program directors (PSPDs) between April and May 2021. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were used, and a conceptual framework was developed. RESULTS: Forty-two percent (352 of 840) of PSPDs responded from 16 of the 17 pediatric (94%) subspecialties; 60% felt the virtual interview process was beneficial to their training program. A majority of respondents (72%) reported cost savings were a benefit; additional benefits included greater efficiency of time, more applicants per day, greater faculty involvement, and perceived less time away from residency for applicants. PSPDs reported a more diverse applicant pool. Without an in-person component, PSPDs worried about programs and applicants missing informative, in-person interactions and applicants missing hospital tours and visiting the city. A model based upon theory of change was developed to aid program considerations for future application cycles. CONCLUSIONS: PSPDs identified several benefits to virtual recruitment, including ease of accommodating increased applicants with a diverse applicant pool and enhanced faculty involvement. Identified limitations included reduced interaction between the applicant and the larger institution/city.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022056735
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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