The COVID-19 epidemic caused structural modifications in the 2020 to 2021 application cycle. Among the changes were the American Orthopaedic Association Council of Residency Program Directors’ suggestions for a universal interview offer day (UIOD), which synchronized the dissemination of candidate interview offers. However, there is insufficient evidence on the execution and impact of a UIOD because it is a novel method in orthopedics. Therefore, for a study, researchers aimed to determine residency program adherence to the Council of Residency Program Directors UIOD guidelines during the 2020-2021 cycle, how quickly programs filled available interviews, and any difference in time from release to booking between applicants using edu and com e-mail domains.

During the 2020 to 2021 residency application cycle, orthopedic residency programs and candidates utilizing the Thalamus interview management software platform were evaluated, comprising 46 residency programs and 993 interviewers (22% and 77% of the national total, respectively).

About 19 (41%) of the programs in this research fully adhered to the UIOD and time, 14 (30%) were weakly adherent and sent out offers outside of the designated time, and 13 (28%) were nonadherent and sent out offers on days other than the UIOD. The average time to fill to 80% capacity for the 33 programs launched on the UIOD was 26±14 minutes (range 3 to 77 minutes). Applicants with edu e-mail domains had their first interview scheduled an average of 1.8 minutes later than those with com e-mail domains (14.8 vs. 13.0 minutes, P<0.05).

Despite more than 60% of residency programs agreeing to participate, less than half of those who committed to participate rigorously followed standards during the inaugural UIOD in orthopedic surgery. Although further study is needed to examine the unique, totally virtual 2020 to 2021 recruiting season, a phased or waved approach to the UIOD in future cycles may enhance the process for all parties.