Application Insights from an OB/GYN Program Director

We have learned a lot over the past couple of weeks listening to program directors across the country give their take on the unique challenges both students and programs face this application cycle in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Be sure to take a look at each of these interviews to get a sense of the overall pulse of how program directors generally feel.  Each PD has brought up unique points that help paint the picture of what we can expect with the application review process and interview season.

Today, we have another great addition to these perspectives.  We had the opportunity to speak with the University of Washington Obstetrics and Gynecology Program Director, Dr. Mallory Kremer.  We are thankful for her time and her thoughts.  Read below to find out why each and every interaction you have with a program (whether via email, social media, or a virtual interview) matter more this year than ever before.  Be sure to exude professional behavior in these encounters.  Let’s hear from Dr. Kremer. 

What is the biggest challenge in the application cycle this year from the perspective of a program director?

All of the unknowns associated with planning zoom pre-interview dinners, zoom interviews, and trying to recruit a diverse group of applicants who may have not had the opportunity to even step foot in Seattle before! 

“Every interaction with a program is an opportunity for us to gather information on how a person treats others.” 

Dr. Mallory Kremer, Program Director, UW Obstetrics and Gynecology
With applicants not being able to interview in person, they lack the ability to show off their interpersonal skills, manners, and overall demeanor in person. Is there a way that they can still manage to do this during this application cycle?

Manners show in emails –we notice how applicants interact with our program administrators and scheduling staff! Every interaction with a program is an opportunity for us to gather information on how a person treats others. 

Will standardized tests scores become more important this year? Less important? The same?

Probably the same. I think that many programs are trying to conduct holistic reviews of applicants to de-emphasize the weight of USMLE scores — pass-fail status for USMLE is coming soon, and programs are adjusting accordingly.

Dr. Mallory Kremer, University of Washington Obstetrics and Gynecology, Program Director
Do you believe programs will be more inclined to rank applicants that they already know fairly well (home students) to avoid any surprises?

Not necessarily – our program seeks to recruit a diverse group of applicants from across the country, to bring in different perspectives and experiences, which means we cannot give preference to all of our home-grown students.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give an applicant when it comes to how to succeed during the application cycle of 2020?

Be honest and ethical as you move through the process. Your passion and accomplishments can still shine on a zoom interview. Be curious & open minded, and ask lots of questions!

Thanks again to Dr. Kremer for providing this excellent insight into her program and their strategy for recruiting students.  Special thanks to Dr. Anisha Khanijow for setting up this interview.

Be sure to check out the remainder of our interviews with program directors across the country.  Explore all of our other resources for applying to residency and check out our complete guide for structuring and answering the most common interview questions.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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