VSLO® Program Updates

We are committed to providing regular VSLO program updates through the VSLO listserve, email and on this page. Please visit this page regularly to learn what’s happening with the VSLO program. If you have questions, please contact the VSLO team at: visitingstudents@aamc.org.

Message from Jenny Samaan, PhD

“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

These words apply to the many intersecting realities we face every day . . . the global COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, inequality in access to healthcare and in health outcomes. Thank you for your partnership as we continue to navigate new ways of meeting our missions amidst challenges.

This month’s Bulletin includes a substantial number of AAMC resources we hope you will find valuable. 

Across the AAMC, new tools and partnerships are providing students access to additional knowledge and opportunities.  

  • Earlier this month, AAMC published an expanded version of the annual data on residency program entrance rates and application behavior by specialty, which helps applicants anchor their initial thinking about the number of residency programs they apply to.
  • As AAMC focuses on the transition to residency, the July 15 AAMC Tools for a Successful Residency Application webinar drew more than 1,000 attendees.  
  • The updated Residency Explorer™ tool is now available, allowing residency applicants to compare their profile to applicants who matched at each program. This is a resource for rising 4th-year medical students from MD and DO-granting medical schools in the United States and international medical students and graduates who are applying to residency programs in 2020.
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) members, that have long served as Home institutions for DO students in the VSLO U.S. Network, now have the option to become Host institutions (along with their hospital site partners). Qualified DO schools can also now join the Global Network, receiving and sending students to other participating Global Network sites.

We continue to see an increase in virtual electives intended to replace clinical/research rotations and sub-internships being offered through our institutions. As of mid-July, 96 electives are being offered by 46 Host institutions in 16 specialty areas. 

In order to provide the greatest access to these virtual electives, the VSLO program invites U.S. Network Host institutions that are currently not in the Global Network to extend their virtual offerings to students attending institutions in the VSLO Global Network. In our commitment to expand access to virtual electives, we are waiving the institutional participation fee associated with Global Network access for this fiscal year for U.S. institutions. These innovative learning opportunities enable students to continue valuable specialty training during these uncertain times. If you would like more information about this opportunity, please reach out to Sujay Polimati, VSLO’s Business Development Manager, visitingstudents@aamc.org and indicate Virtual Electives in your email.

Finally, I want to strongly encourage our Host institutions to make decisions about pending applications. We have many, many applications Pending Host Review. Clearing this backlog is crucial. It is more than a “housekeeping” activity. We have heard from students that they are uncertain if they should arrange electives through their Home medical school because they have received no information at all from many of the Hosts to whom they have applied. Other students may be holding off on a final decision about an in-hand offer because they hope to have an option at another Host institution where decisions are pending. These are important opportunities in complex times and clearing these pending decisions is a much needed, time sensitive action.

Thank you for your continued, essential work in such critical times.  

VSLO Technical Guidance

New Payment Options

VSLO now accepts AMEX and Discover cards as a form of payment in addition to VISA and Mastercard.

U.S. Citizenship 

The VSLO application system U.S. citizenship category now includes additional birthplaces of Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the selection menu.

AAMC Resources for Medical Educators

Residency Explorer

Residency Explorer is a resource for rising 4th-year medical students from MD-granting and DO-granting medical schools in the United States and international medical students and graduates who are applying to residency programs in 2020. The tool allows applicants to research individual residency programs in 23 specialties and compare themselves to applicants who previously matched at those programs as well as explore program characteristics across many areas of interest. 

Residency Explorer is the only resource with original, source-verified data from the 9 national organizations involved in the transition to residency. While Residency Explorer does not advise students where to apply or predict where they may match to a residency program, it can help as they work with student affairs deans, advisors, and mentors to develop a list of programs for further investigation. Last year, 9 out of 10 applicants said after using Residency Explorer, they felt more confident about which programs to apply to and felt more informed about the characteristics of programs of interest to them.

Student affairs deans and advisors also have access to Residency Explorer using their AAMC username and password. Please note that there is not an advisor “portal” in Residency Explorer.

Diminishing Returns

Since 2017, AAMC has published new annual data to help applicants anchor their initial thinking about the number of residency programs to which to apply. AAMC research has shown that there is a point of “diminishing returns ” (PDR) at which submitting one additional application results in a lower rate of return on the applicant’s likelihood of entering a residency program. PDR varies by specialty, USMLE® Step 1 score, and applicant type. New this year, the AAMC has published PDR data for 18 MD specialties and 8 DO specialties, as well as overall entrance rates for 19 specialties across applicant types. The AAMC expanded entrance data includes:

  • Whether applicants enter training in other specialties
  • The most common specialties where applicants enter training
  • Entrance rates for those who fail the USMLE Step 1 Exam on the first attempt

To learn more about how many residency applications your students should submit, view the new data findings from the AAMC’s Diminishing Returns expansion in the AAMC News Insights Article, No, a Step 1 failure won’t doom your medical career, by Atul Grover, AAMC Executive Director of Research and Action Institute.

AAMC Guidance on Peaceful Protests by Medical Students and Residents 

Both aspiring physicians and medical school administrators have expressed concern that being arrested for lawful protesting may impact admission to medical school or residency. In response, the AAMC has developed guidance in support of medical student, resident, and applicant participation in demonstrations and other forms of peaceful public protest against police brutality and systemic racism. 

June 2020 MSPE Guidance for Disruptions Related to COVID-19 

This guidance document from the AAMC GSA Committee on Student Affairs (COSA) MSPE Effective Practices Working Group is intended to assist schools in addressing COVID-19-related curricular, evaluative, and other changes in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation. As with previous MSPE guidance, it is not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, this resource emphasizes clarity and recognizes that many of the decisions must be made at the medical school-level in alignment with institutional policies. 

AAMC’s iCollaborative 

We encourage you to engage with the AAMC's iCollaborative resource as you and your colleagues seek avenues for your medical students to meet their academic milestones.

In addition, you can visit AAMC.org/coronavirus for current, relevant information during this continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Upcoming Events

2021 Match Week and SOAP Schedule – Update 

The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP) is the process during Match Week for the Main Residency Match® whereby positions left unfilled after the matching algorithm has been processed are offered to eligible, unmatched and partially matched applicants through a series of offer rounds. Usually SOAP has three offer rounds; however, because of the increasing number of unfilled positions that have remained at the end of SOAP in recent years and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming application and Match season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NRMP® has decided to add an additional, fourth offer round to the SOAP process in 2021.

The additional SOAP offer round will begin at 12:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 18, 2021 of Match Week and end at 2:00 p.m. ET. SOAP will now conclude at 3:00 p.m. ET with the posting of the final List of Unfilled Programs in the Registration, Ranking, and Results (R3) system.  

Virtual Exploration Opportunities

The new Careers in Medicine® (CiM) website is live. Your students can check out an updated list of links to day-in-the-life interviews and other articles that describe what it’s like to practice in a variety of specialties, practice options, and roles from the Explore Options page.

Training Resources

  • To view instructor led-training sessions for institutions, job aids, and training videos, please visit our training page at aamc.org/vslo/training.

Training for Participating Institutions

The Visiting Student team provides comprehensive training on the application service, to ensure a smooth transition for our participating institutions. The trainings address management of both the U.S. and Global networks.

Search for Electives

Browse our catalog of away electives at participating host institutions by location, keywords, specialty, and more.

Find Participating Host Institutions

Find a complete listing of participating host institutions. 

Find Participating Home Institutions

Find a complete listing of all participating home institutions. 

VSLO® Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about VSLO? Check out these frequently asked about topics. 

For VSLO Help or Inquiries

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