At many hospitals in the Midwest, it can be a challenge to identify
and recruit highly qualified resident physicians. To enhance the recruitment
efforts of our hospital, which is located in a mid-sized city in Michigan,
the director of graduate medical education set up a Web page and, since 1998,
hits on the site have increased 6-fold (560 to 3500). In November 1999, we
launched our first live Internet chat session, during which the hospital's
residency program directors answered candidates' questions via the computer.
We invited candidates who applied to our residency programs and 4000 medical
students to participate in the exchange. Two hundred people logged into the
session and this cyber strategy allowed the hospital to appeal to candidates
who might not have previously considered its programs. Students could communicate
with program directors, and the nature of an Internet chat session—specifically
the anonymity—minimized the risk of questions that might be censored
during a formal interview.