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J Emerg Med. 2011 Jan;40(1):72-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.09.017. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act's impact on residency applicant behavior and recommendations: a pilot study.

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1
Department of Emergency Medicine, Michigan State University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) provides residency applicants the right to view letters of recommendation. Applicants must indicate whether they waive this right.

OBJECTIVES:

We determined how frequently applicants to an emergency medicine residency program waived the right to view letters of recommendation and whether such decisions impacted the letters' contents.

METHODS:

A retrospective, observational review of all letters of recommendation submitted to an emergency medicine residency program in 2005-2006 determined applicants' FERPA declaration, use of the Standardized Letter of Recommendation (SLOR), and the SLOR Global Assessment ranking. The percentage of applicants waiving FERPA rights was determined. Chi-squared tests of independence assessed whether applicants' decisions influenced the SLOR Global Assessment. All statistical analysis used a 5% level of significance.

RESULTS:

There were 367 applications received; 1120 letters of recommendation accompanied 264 US medical school applications, 449 (40%) using the SLOR format. Of the SLORs, only 6% stated that the applicant did not waive his FERPA right; 426 SLORs included a Global Assessment. Of those waiving FERPA rights, 30% were ranked "Outstanding," 50% "Excellent," 17% "Very Good," and 3% "Good." For those not waiving FERPA rights, 35% were ranked as "Outstanding," 46% "Excellent," 15% "Very Good," and 4% "Good." There was no statistical difference in Global Assessment ranking between applicants who waived FERPA rights and those who did not (p = 0.934).

CONCLUSIONS:

In this pilot study, the vast majority of applicants waived FERPA rights to view letters of recommendation. The applicants' decisions did not influence their SLOR Global Assessment ranking.

PMID:
20965684
DOI:
10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.09.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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