Standardized letters of recommendation and successful match into otolaryngology

Research paper by Adam J. Kimple MD, PhD, Stanley W. McClurg MD, Anthony G. Del Signore MD, PharmD, Mohamed O. Tomoum MD, Feng‐Chang Lin PhD, Brent A. Senior MD

Indexed on: 14 Mar '16Published on: 03 Feb '16Published in: The Laryngoscope


Historically, narrative letters of recommendation have been utilized in the selection of applicants for otolaryngology residency programs. In the last two application cycles, our specialty adopted a standardized letter of recommendation (SLOR). The intent was to decrease time burden for letter writers and to provide readers with an objective evaluation of applicants. The objective of this study was to determine attributes in the SLOR that correlate with matching into a residency program.We performed a retrospective study using SLOR, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step 1 scores, and matched outcomes of applicants who applied to our institution for the 2013 and 2014 match cycle.We included the following variables from the SLOR in the statistical analysis to determine which ones were associated with matching: patient care, medical knowledge, communication skills, procedural skills, research, initiative and drive, commitment to otolaryngology, commitment to academic medicine, match potential, and USMLE1 scores.We identified 532 applicants and 963 SLOR. In successful applicants, scores for patient care, medical knowledge, communication skills, initiative and drive, and match potential were statistically higher (P < 0.05). Scores for professionalism, procedural skills, research, commitment to otolaryngology, commitment to academic medicine, and USMLE step 1 scores were not higher among successfully matched applicants.Although SLOR can save time for letter writers and provide an objective description of applicants, the utility of individual domains within the SLOR is questionable. Additionally, it is concerning that applicants' professionalism and procedural skills are not correlated with matching in our specialty.NA. Laryngoscope, 2016