Learning From the 2021 Ophthalmology Match: Virtual Residency Matching During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sahil Aggarwal, C. Ellis Wisely, Misha Syed, R. Michael Siatkowski, Pratap Challa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The effect of virtual interviews on residency match outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown. Examining the ophthalmology match may help inform all specialties undergoing virtual interviews. Objective To determine the impact of allopathic applicant match characteristics in the first year of the virtual residency Match process. Methods Using the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology match database, a retrospective review was conducted of all allopathic applicants to ophthalmology residency programs in the United States from the 2016 through the 2021 match cycles. Demographic information, interview numbers, and match outcomes were compared between the 2016-2020 (in-person) and 2021 (virtual) cycles. Results A total of 3343 allopathic applicants were analyzed. Applicants in the 2021 Match applied to significantly more programs than 2016-2020 applicants did (78.7623.6 vs 73.1622.7, P,.001). Among matched and unmatched applicants, there was no significant difference in the number of interviews granted or completed. There was a significant reduction in the match rate between the 2016-2020 and 2021 Match cycles (81.3% vs 76.6%, P¼.0009). A subanalysis of applicants who went to medical schools with ophthalmology residency programs (N¼2308) found that the home institution match rate was significantly higher for the 2021 Match compared to the aggregate 2016-2020 Matches (26.1% vs 20.6%, respectively, P¼.015). Conclusions Significantly more applicants to ophthalmology residency programs matched at their home institutions in the 2021 virtual match cycle compared to the previous 5 years without influencing the interview numbers granted and attended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-679
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of graduate medical education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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