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Ophthalmology. 2013 Feb;120(2):423-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.07.084. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

Applicants' choice of an ophthalmology residency program.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia 20060, USA.



To determine the factors most important to applicants when selecting an ophthalmology residency program.


Cross-sectional survey.


All 595 applicants who submitted a rank list to the Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program for the 2012 match.


Participants anonymously completed a 25-item questionnaire after the submission of their rank lists. A multiple-choice format and ordinal scale were used to query applicants on demographics, career plans, and the importance of factors related to program characteristics. One question allowed a free text response to identify factors that caused the applicant to rank a program lower than other programs or not at all (i.e., "red flag").


Factors important to applicants when creating their rank lists.


The response rate was 37% (218/595). The 3 most important factors affecting rank lists were resident-faculty relationships, clinical and surgical volume, and diversity of training. The fourth most important was the interview experience with faculty; poor interview experience was the most frequently cited "red flag." Age, gender, and marital status did not affect how applicants rated factors. Applicants planning a post-residency fellowship or an academic career placed greater importance on opportunities for resident research and a program's prestige (P<0.0001). Female and ethnic minority applicants placed greater importance on the diversity of faculty and residents by gender or ethnicity (P<0.0001).


Applicants rated educational and interpersonal factors as more important than geographic factors when selecting an ophthalmology residency program. Future career plans and demographic factors influenced the rating of specific factors. The results of this study provide a useful resource to programs preparing for the match.

Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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