Outcome Analysis of Factors Impacting the Plastic Surgery Match
Jeyhan Wood, MD, Lisa David, MD.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.
PURPOSE: Matching into an integrated plastic surgery program has become highly competitive because of a limited number of positions offered and a larger number of qualified applicants. This competitiveness mandates many applicants to have a backup plan of general surgery or research. This study was conducted to analyze potential correlations between a successful match into an integrated plastic surgery resident position and the number of plastic surgery and general surgery applications submitted, the number of interview invitations received, and the number of interviews attended. Additional factors studied include demographics and participation in the Couples Match and away rotations. Finally, we looked at the financial impact of the interview process and assessed compliance with the new communication guidelines for both programs and applicants. These results may serve as a guide to future plastic surgery resident applicants as well as the training programs.
METHODS: A 29-item survey was conducted of all the medical students who applied to our institution for the 2008-2009 academic year. A Web site link was sent via e-mail directly to each of the applicants to our program. The survey consisted of questions addressing general demographics as well as specific questions regarding the interview process. Descriptive statistics, including frequencies and proportions for each of the questions, were calculated. To assess the relationship between categorical outcomes, a Fisher’s Exact Test was used. Results with a p-value less than 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.
RESULTS: A total of 101 of 211 surveys were completed, for a 48% response rate. Overall, 78% of responders matched, with 81% of those matching into plastic surgery and 14% matching into general surgery. Statistically significant correlations were found between match rate and the number of plastic surgery interview invitations received (p<0.0001), the number of plastic surgery interviews attended (p<0.0001), the total
number of programs ranked (p<0.0001) and AOA membership
(p=0.003). Neither gender, marital status or participation in the Couples
Match were found to influence match rate. While doing an away rotation
did not correlate with match rate, one-third of responders matched
where they did an away rotation. Financial analysis found this process to
be very expensive for the applicants. Noncompliance with new
communication guidelines was unacceptably high with 34% of
responders reporting violations.
CONCLUSION: This study supports with hard data the assumptions regarding matching into a competitive specialty: the more interview invitations received and interviews attended, the more total programs ranked, and the more academically competitive the applicant, demonstrated here by AOA membership, the more likely to match. Perhaps more importantly, these results demonstrate that factors such as gender and away rotations do not influence the match rate. By applying this data, more precise guidelines regarding the plastic surgery match may be developed in order to more effectively advise prospective applicants how to prepare for a successful match. Furthermore, perhaps programs could implement simple initiatives to decrease the expense of this process for their interviewees.