August 11, 2021

Reflections on the Fellowship Application Process

By Yasha Gupta, MD

Due to the pandemic, the application process for fellowship was completely different this year, with fellowship interviews conducted entirely virtually. While I may have preferred to travel around the United States on the hunt for the perfect program, I would be lying if I said I didn’t find interviewing from home more convenient.

Convenience is definitely a major pro of the virtual interview process. As busy residents, we are often pulled in multiple directions — taking call, doing research and preparing for the Core Exam.

The virtual format made it easier to interview across the country, even on a week of overnight shifts. I could interview in New York City one day and in Los Angeles the next. Skipping the travel meant saving hundreds (even thousands) on airfare and hotel rooms. While I haven’t seen any true literature on it yet, I would be shocked if the lack of travel didn’t have at least some positive impact on the environment.

The biggest negative aspect to virtual interviews, however, is not being able to meet radiology faculty in person. As someone who enjoys face-to-face interactions, I was worried that my true personality would not shine through the camera. The virtual format definitely felt awkward at times with unnatural pauses or tech glitches.

In addition, we missed touring the facilities and visiting the cities where we would be living for a year. Worst of all, the virtual format is not conducive to making friends along the way. We missed those “we interviewed together!” anecdotes frequently shared among colleagues.

If I had to give fellowship applicants some advice, I would recommend the following:

  1. Submit your application as early as possible.
  2. Make sure your internet is strong and stable.
  3. Avoid loud areas, like coffee shops, for interview days.
  4. Get a ring light or some form of proper lighting.
  5. Have a microphone (and a backup) available.

Other ways to interview with success in the virtual setting include smiling more (seriously!), keeping a copy of your CV on your computer, writing a few notes about each interviewer prior to the interview day, and of course, having a compelling reason to participate in each of the potential programs.

Even virtually, fellowship interviews mark a very exciting time in our journey to becoming radiologists. You start to see the light at the end of a four-year residency tunnel and begin shifting into a more career-oriented mindset.

I wish you all the very best as you start to formulate your applications, and remember, don’t sell yourself short! You’re doing great work.