Outcome analysis of factors impacting the plastic surgery match.

Research paper by Jeyhan S JS Wood, Lisa R LR David

Indexed on: 22 May '10Published on: 22 May '10Published in: Annals of plastic surgery


Matching into an integrated plastic surgery program has become highly competitive. As a result it has become more difficult for both the applicants and the residency programs to determine which attributes are most important to match in plastic surgery and, more importantly, to make a surgeon who will contribute to the future of our specialty. This study was conducted to analyze potential associations between a successful match into plastic surgery and the number of interviews offered and attended, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) membership, and participation in away rotations. Increased competitiveness of the specialty also has required that the applicant spend significant time and money on the match process to improve his chances. Therefore, we looked at the financial impact of the interview process as well as at compliance with the new communication mandate by the Plastic Surgery Residency Review Committee designed to decrease some of the time and monetary costs associated with the match process. An anonymous 30-item survey was e-mailed to all the applicants to our institution last year. The survey consisted of questions addressing applicant profile with specific questions regarding the interview process. Descriptive statistics, including frequencies and proportions for each of the questions, were calculated. To assess the relationship between categorical outcomes, a Fisher exact test was used. Results with a P value less than 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant. Considering matching as the primary outcome measure, a statistically significant relationship was found with the number of plastic surgery interview invitations received and attended (P < 0.0001 for both), as well as with AOA membership (P = 0.018), with 89% (32/36) of the responders in AOA matching into plastic surgery. Although doing an away rotation did not have a significant association with match rate, one-third of responders matched where they did an away rotation. Gender was not found to influence match rate. This study supports with hard data the assumptions regarding matching into a competitive specialty: the more interview invitations received and interviews attended, and the more academically competitive the applicant, the more likely the applicant is to match. By applying this data, more precise guidelines may be developed to advise applicants concerning preparation for a successful match.