Comparison of applicant criteria and program expectations for choosing residency programs in the otolaryngology match

Scott Sharp, Liana Puscas, Brian Schwab, Walter T Lee
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 2011, 144 (2): 174-9

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate criteria used by residency applicants in ranking otolaryngology residency programs and to compare applicant criteria with program expectations of ranking otolaryngology residency programs.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING: 2009 and 2010 match cycles.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Program applicants and otolaryngology program directors.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Applicants were asked to rank the importance of 10 criteria in choosing a residency program (1 = criterion was of the utmost importance and 20 = not important at all). Program directors were asked to express expectations of how applicants should rank programs using those same criteria. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to analyze responses between groups.

RESULTS: Comprehensiveness of subspecialties and resident satisfaction were the most important criteria for both groups; salary, call schedule, and likelihood to rank the resident highly were least valued. Four criteria were significantly different between groups. Applicants significantly valued location (4.36 vs 8.9, P < .0001) and call schedule (9.85 vs 12.73, P = .002) more than program directors did. Program directors valued didactic schedule (6.1 vs 9.18, P < .0001) and comprehensiveness of subspecialties (2.53 vs 3.02, P = .007) more than applicants did. Forty-one of 105 (39%) program directors completed the survey.

CONCLUSION: While applicants and program directors agree on the most and least important criteria for ranking residency programs, there are several significant differences in these criteria. This study provides insight on ranking criteria that may improve the resident match process and subsequent training experience. However, the ability to generalize the results is limited by the low response rate.

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