The perception and costs of the interview process for plastic surgery residency programs: Can the process be streamlined?

Research paper by Srinivas M SM Susarla, Edward W EW Swanson, Sheri S Slezak, Scott D SD Lifchez, Richard J RJ Redett

Indexed on: 16 Sep '16Published on: 16 Sep '16Published in: Plastic and reconstructive surgery


To assess applicant perceptions and costs associated with the interview process for plastic surgery residency positions.This was a cross-sectional survey of applicants to the integrated- and independent-track residencies at our institution. All applicants who were interviewed were invited to complete a web-based survey on costs and applicant perceptions of various components of the interview process. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were computed to compare applicants to the two program tracks.Fifty-three applicants were interviewed for residency positions; 48 completed a survey assessing costs and perceptions of the interview process (90.5% response rate). Thirty-four applicants were candidates for the integrated program (where applicants match directly from medical school); 19 applicants were candidates for the independent program (where applicants have completed formal surgical training in another specialty, e.g. general surgery). The program spent $2763/applicant interviewed; 63% of applicants spent >$5000 on the interview process. More than 70% of applicants missed >7 days of work to attend interviews. Independent applicants felt less strongly that interviews were critical to the selection process and placed less value on physically visiting the hospital and direct, in-person interaction. Applicants placed little value on program informational talks. Applicants who had experience with virtual interviews felt more positively about the format of a video-interview relative to those who did not.The residency interview process is resource intensive for programs and applicants. Removing informational talks may improve the process. Making physical tours and in-person interviews optional are other alternatives that merit future study.