Campus visits go virtual for future students and residents

Restrictions of the novel coronavirus continue to challenge everything from special events to the daily routines at UT Health San Antonio. Now, as a very important season for recruitment approaches, these challenges continue to be met with creativity and innovation.

Recruiting new students, residents and fellows to UT Health San Antonio is an all-year process, but one of the main events of the process is interview day. This is when prospective students, residents and fellows make an in-person visit to the campus. They meet other students, residents and faculty, tour the campus and buildings, get a feel for the community and attend a luncheon.

“We are known as the best interview lunch on the Texas trail,” said Judianne Kellaway, MD, MEd, FACS, associate dean for admissions, Office of Undergraduate Medical Education.

But even more than a great meal and friendly hospitality, applicants are “blown away” when they arrive on campus and learn about the high-level research, competitive programs and curriculum and accessibility of the faculty, said Dr. Kellaway.

“I get so many comments from the interview-day evaluations that the [Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine] wasn’t really on the applicants’ radar, but now we’re their first choice,” she said. “Being such an interactive place, a friendly and engaging place, they notice it.”

There are usually about 25 interview days that take place between August and December, with groups of around 50 applicants visiting at once. This experience is vital to the decision a prospective student or resident may make because, largely, decisions are made on feeling and fit.

“Fit is crucial both ways,” said Woodson Scott Jones, vice dean, Office of Graduate Medical Education, about potential residents and fellows. “How does the applicant feel about working with this group of people for three years, and how do the residents, faculty and program director feel about how good of a fit this resident will be to the program.”

With restrictions from the pandemic prohibiting campus visits, that fit factor is a big concern. But innovative efforts to engage and connect with future students and residents in a virtual setting are underway. Using videos and social media campaigns, admissions recruiters are aiming to emulate the interview-day experience.

Featuring President William Henrich, MD, MACP; Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine Dean Robert Hromas, MD, FACP; and other university leaders, these videos promote the progressive curriculum and quality facilities of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, while also expressing the warmth and diversity of the campus community and the vibrant, friendly culture of San Antonio. The videos emphasize the “collaboration over competition” attitude fostered by the school and highlight the many partnerships with surrounding health systems available to students, residents and fellows.

The videos are housed on a new recruitment website, which showcases personal stories and interviews from current students, residents and fellows describing their learning experiences at the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

Other virtual engagement strategies are in the works.

“A lot of great ideas are being put out there,” said Dr. Jones. Virtual dinners complete with food delivery to applicants, as well as participation in virtual didactics, group discussions and virtual interviews with faculty are just some of new ways recruitment and the interview-day process will bring the virtual environment to life.

“We want to really personalize the experience,” said Dr. Kellaway. “We are working hard to make this virtual encounter with the [Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine] be as fantastic as it is in person.”

The videos and recruitment site can be viewed at LongSchoolofMedicine.org.



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