The Effect of a Single Interview Release Date on the Plastic Surgery Residency Match
David E Janhofer, Jason Harris, Luke P Poveromo, David M Otterburn
NewYork Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY
Background: Traditionally, plastic surgery residency interview invitations were released by individual programs and scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis based on applicant response. In 2019, the way by which plastic surgery residency interview invitations were released changed. Rather than being released on program-determined dates, interview invitations were released on a standardized date, allowing students several days to either accept or decline invitations. This change was intended both to remove student anxiety surrounding responding rapidly and scheduling an interview quickly enough, as well as to ensure residency programs could fill their interview days with students most interested in attending the interview and in a potential residency position. This new system is thus theorized to reduce the number of ranks required to match, both from a program and a student perspective.
Methods: Using published National Residency Match Program (NRMP) data, historical trends in the numbers of interviews students received, the number of programs they ranked, as well as data to reflect the competitiveness of applicants were tracked. These data were compared to the number of applicants that plastic surgery residency programs needed to rank in order to fill each residency spot, as well as compared to similarly competitive specialties.
Results: While the general trend across all specialties participating in The Match was towards ranking more applicants, plastic surgery residency programs experienced a reduction in mean ranking of 5.6 students per residency spot (2019) to mean ranking of 4.3 students per spot (2020). This deviates from the general upward trajectory of the number of applicants ranked by programs per year, which had previously demonstrated a trend towards 0.18 additional students ranked/per spot per year (R2 = 0.39). These data also deviate from the general upward trajectory of the number of programs ranked by US applicants, which had previously increased by 0.70 additional ranks per applicant per year (R2 = 0.90).
Conclusions: While the long-term effects remain to be seen, early data indicate that the changes to the plastic surgery interview application process decreased the number of students programs needed to rank, and reduced the number of programs ranked by US applicants. This suggests the changes have led to more effective selection by both students and residency programs.
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