The Carbon Footprint and Cost of Virtual Residency Interviews

Alexander Domingo, Justin Singer, Adrian Cois, Joanna Hatfield, Rebecca E. Rdesinski, Anthony Cheng, Megan Aylor, John Sullenbarger, Sara Walker, Shane Hervey, Amy Stenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The shift from in-person to virtual residency interviews may impact greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and costs but the direction and amount of this change is not yet clear. Objective: To estimate GHGE and financial impacts of virtual interviews among applicants and programs. Methods: In 2020-2021 we sent a postinterview survey to 1429 applicants from 7 residency programs and 1 clinical psychology program at 1 institution. The survey collected origin of travel and transit type if in-person interviews had been held and excluded responses if the applicant would not have participated in an in-person interview, or if travel type or original city was missing. We used the International Civil Aviation Organization calculator to estimate flight-related GHGE in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) and Google Maps to estimate ground travel, with a standard CO2e per mile. Flight, hotel, and airport taxi costs were estimated using,, Uber, and Lyft. We aggregated these data and calculated median and interquartile ranges (IQRs) for applicant GHGE and cost savings, and assumed no cost or GHGE from virtual interviews. We used Wilcoxon signed rank sum tests to compare in-person 2019-2020 and virtual 2020-2021 GME program interview budgets. Results: The survey response rate was 565, or 40% of applicants; 543 remained after the exclusion criteria were applied. Reduction in applicant travel due to virtual interviews led to median estimated GHGE savings of 0.47 (IQR 0.30-0.61) MTCO2e and $490 (IQR $392-$544) per applicant, per interview. Programs savings ranged from $7,615 to $33,670 for the interview season. Conclusions: Virtual interviews in 8 GME programs were associated with lower estimated GHGE and costs, for applicants and programs, compared with in-person interviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-116
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of graduate medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Education


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