Applicant Characteristics Associated With Selection for Ranking at Independent Surgery Residency Programs

Jonathan M Dort, Amber W Trickey, Kara J Kallies, Amit R T Joshi, Richard A Sidwell, Benjamin T Jarman
Journal of Surgical Education 2015, 72 (6): e123-9

OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated characteristics of applicants selected for interview and ranked by independent general surgery residency programs and assessed independent program application volumes, interview selection, rank list formation, and match success.

DESIGN: Demographic and academic information was analyzed for 2014-2015 applicants. Applicant characteristics were compared by ranking status using univariate and multivariable statistical techniques. Characteristics independently associated with whether or not an applicant was ranked were identified using multivariable logistic regression modeling with backward stepwise variable selection and cluster-correlated robust variance estimates to account for correlations among individuals who applied to multiple programs.

SETTING: The Electronic Residency Application Service was used to obtain applicant data and program match outcomes at 33 independent surgery programs.

PARTICIPANTS: All applicants selected to interview at 33 participating independent general surgery residency programs were included in the study.

RESULTS: Applicants were 60% male with median age of 26 years. Birthplace was well distributed. Most applicants (73%) had ≥1 academic publication. Median United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE) Step 1 score was 228 (interquartile range: 218-240), and median USMLE Step 2 clinical knowledge score was 241 (interquartile range: 231-250). Residency programs in some regions more often ranked applicants who attended medical school within the same region. On multivariable analysis, significant predictors of ranking by an independent residency program were: USMLE scores, medical school region, and birth region. Independent programs received an average of 764 applications (range: 307-1704). On average, 12% interviews, and 81% of interviewed applicants were ranked. Most programs (84%) matched at least 1 applicant ranked in their top 10.

CONCLUSIONS: Participating independent programs attract a large volume of applicants and have high standards in the selection process. This information can be used by surgery residency applicants to gauge their candidacy at independent programs. Independent programs offer a select number of interviews, rank most applicants that they interview, and successfully match competitive applicants.

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