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Bull Hosp Jt Dis. 2002-2003;61(1-2):49-57.

An analysis of orthopaedic residency selection criteria.

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NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, New York, New York, USA.


The lack of literature on residency selection criteria used by orthopaedic program directors has left medical students in the position of relying on rumor and anecdotal information as to what program directors value most highly when sorting through large candidate pools. The purpose of this study was to compare the perspectives on resident selection criteria solicited from orthopaedic program directors and residency applicants. A power analysis was done to determine adequate sample size. A 26-item questionnaire was mailed to 98 residency applicants who interviewed at our program and 156 orthopaedic program directors. The program directors were also asked to elaborate on those factors that 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 program director ratings were found in 12 of the 26 questionnaire items. Applicants (n = 91) ranked the following criteria as most important: a letter of recommendation from an orthopaedic surgeon (8.6 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most important), USMLE I score (7.7), and rank in medical school (7.6). The most important criteria for the directors (n = 109) were: the applicant performed a rotation at the director's program (7.9), USMLE I score (7.8), and rank in medical school (7.8). This study provides the most comprehensive empirical data to date as to the factors which orthopaedic program directors consider most important during the residency selection process. To our knowledge, this is the first study in the orthopaedic literature that compares the program directors 'and residency applicants' views on resident selection criteria. Significant differences were found between applicant and program director views on resident selection criteria.

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