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How COVID has changed residency programs for Medical College of Georgia grads



AUGUSTA, Ga. – It’s one of the most exciting days of a med student’s journey, but like most things, COVID turned it upside down.

Friday marked a year since medical education slowed down due to COVID, and it was also match day at the Medical College of Georgia.

Out of MCG’s graduating med school class, 99 percent matched with residencies this year and of those, 31 percent will stay in Georgia. But COVID completely changed the way this process works, and actually permanently eliminated some of the criteria our future doctors need to get into residency programs.

“The thing that was most relevant to today’s program is that the process of selecting residency programs and interviewing and matching has also changed,” said Dr. Douglas Miller, vice dean for academic affairs at MCG.

“It was difficult. Not being able to actually go see programs in person was tough. Not being able to get a feel from them,” said Susan Brands, fourth-year class president at MCG.

But one change won’t go away even once COVID does. From here on out, med students no longer need to take a standardized clinical skills test to get into residencies.

“That was a big blow in a way, but our students have pivoted to other types of testing,” said Miller.

The future of what will replace that test remains unknown, but med students like Susan Brands say that the change is a welcome one.

“The way it was delivered, it really didn’t test the things that it should have tested and it was also absurdly expensive,” said Brands. “We’re pretty relieved to have it gone.”

Dr. Douglas Miller wants to reassure the public who may have concerns about this scale-back in testing.

“For those who are concerned about whether testing being changed is going to negatively impact the skills of their physician, I would say no. The answer is no,” said Miller.

He says students usually still get tested within their individual schools, and before they can graduate from their residency programs.

MCG completely revamped their curriculum during COVID to include more clinical experience, despite the decease in clinical testing. But now that there is a less standardized way of testing, some people recommend looking into new doctors’ educational backgrounds to make sure they come from an accredited, reputable school.