Factors used by program directors to select hand surgery fellows

Matthew S Nies, Alexander J Bollinger, Charles Cassidy, Peter J L Jebson
Journal of Hand Surgery 2014, 39 (11): 2285-2288.e5

PURPOSE: To identify factors and attributes hand surgery fellowship program directors consider important in selecting applicants for interview and ranking.

METHODS: A web-based questionnaire was sent to all hand fellowship program directors in the United States. The questionnaire was designed to identify the most important criteria in granting an interview, sources of letters of recommendation, the interview process, and factors used to rank a candidate. Each criterion was ranked in importance on a 1 to 5 Likert scale, with 1 being not important and 5 being critical. All responses were anonymous. The most important criterion for each section of the survey was determined by comparing the average Likert scores.

RESULTS: Fifty-two of 76 program directors responded (68%). The criteria with the highest mean Likert scores for offering an applicant an interview were, in order, quality letters of recommendation from hand surgeons, completion of an orthopedic surgery residency, comments regarding the applicant's technical competence, applicant having an MD degree (as opposed to a DO degree), and residency program reputation. The letters of recommendation with the highest value were from the division chief of hand surgery and another hand surgeon in the division/department. The most important features of the interview were maturity of applicant, ability of applicant to articulate thoughts, ability to listen well, self-confidence, and relevant questions asked. The most important factors in ranking a candidate were applicant integrity, commitment to hard work, quality of letters of recommendation, quality of the interview, and ability to work well with other members of the hand surgery team.

CONCLUSIONS: There are identifiable factors considered important by hand surgery fellowship directors when selecting and ranking an applicant. This information may be valuable to medical students and residents contemplating careers in hand surgery.

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