Indexed on: 07 Feb '17Published on: 07 Feb '17Published in: Medical education online
Background From 2002 to 2014, the orthopedic surgery residency applicant pool increased by 25% while the number of applications submitted per applicant rose by 69%, resulting in an increase of 109% in the number of applications received per program. Objective This study aimed to identify applicant factors associated with an increased number of applications to orthopedic surgery residency programs. Design An anonymous survey was sent to all applicants applying to the orthopedic surgery residency program at Loyola University. Questions were designed to define the number of applications submitted per respondent as well as the strength of their application. Of 733 surveys sent, 140 (19.1%) responses were received. Setting An academic institution in Maywood, IL. Participants Fourth-year medical students applying to the orthopedic surgery residency program at Loyola University. Results An applicant's perception of how competitive he or she was (applicants who rated themselves as 'average' submitted more applications than those who rated themselves as either 'good' or 'outstanding', p=0.001) and the number of away rotations (those who completed >2 away rotations submitted more applications, p=0.03) were significantly associated with an increased number of applications submitted. No other responses were found to be associated with an increased number of applications submitted. Conclusion Less qualified candidates are not applying to significantly more programs than their more qualified counterparts. The increasing number of applications represents a financial strain on the applicant, given the costs required to apply to more programs, and a time burden on individual programs to screen increasing numbers of applicants. In order to stabilize or reverse this alarming trend, orthopedic surgery residency programs should openly disclose admission criteria to prospective candidates, and medical schools should provide additional guidance for candidates in this process.