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Saturday, February 16, 2002

Perspectives on orthopaedic resident selection criteria compared

Lack of literature on selection criteria used by orthopaedic program directors has left medical students to rely on rumor and anecdotal information as to what program directors value most highly when sorting through large candidate pools. Researchers reporting in Scientific Paper 139 said on Thursday that they compared perspectives on resident selection criteria between program directors and residency applicants.

A power analysis determined adequate sample size; a 26-item questionnaire was mailed over a two-year period to 100 residency applicants who interviewed at Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopaedic Institute / New York University Orthopaedic Residency Program and 156 orthopaedic program directors. The program directors were also asked to elaborate on factors they felt were most important in their selection process. A two-tailed Student's t-test was employed to compare the two groups. Significance was set at p<0.05.

Statistically significant differences between applicant and chairman rankings were found in 12 of the 26 questionnaire items. According to the co-authors, applicants ranked the following criteria highest:

  1. A letter of recommendation from an orthopaedic surgeon (8.6, Scale 1-10, 10 being most important).
  2. United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) I score (7.7).
  3. Rank in medical school (7.6).
The highest rated criteria for the directors were:
  1. The applicant performed a rotation at the director's program (7.9).
  2. USMLE I score (7.8).
  3. Rank in medical school (7.8).

The study provides the most comprehensive empirical data to date as to what orthopaedic program directors look for during the residency selection process. Significant differences were found between applicant and program director views on resident selection criteria. The co-authors said results from this study might serve as a means for residency programs to evaluate their own selection process. Medical students may use findings from this study to maximize their chances of a successful residency application.

Co-authors of the study include Adam D. Bernstein, MD, New York, N.Y. Laith M. Jazrawi, MD, Birmingham, Ala.; Basil Elbeshbeshy, MD, and Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, New York, N.Y.; and Craig J. DellaValle, MD, Chicago, Ill.

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Last modified 16/February/2002