Applicants to urology residency programs have clear ideas about what they are seeking in a training program and a good understanding of the factors influencing their rankings, according to the findings of a survey presented at the AUA annual meeting San Diego.
“At a time when competition for acceptance into urology residency training programs has been increasing because the number of applicants is growing, our study indicates that medical students hoping for success with matching are well-informed about how they will be evaluated,” said first author Amir H. Lebastchi, MD, urology resident at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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“In addition, our data might provide insight for program directors who seek to attract the top candidates in the applicant pool. Understanding what today’s applicants value during residency might allow institutions to optimally market their programs to future applicants,” added Dr. Lebastchi, who worked on the study with Sapan N. Ambani, MD, and co-authors.
The survey was sent to individuals applying for the 2016 urology training programs at the University of Michigan, University of Toledo, University of Washington, and University of Florida.
“Geographic location is a factor considered by applicants when applying to residency programs, and in order to minimize bias related to that issue, we conducted a multicenter study with geographically diverse sites,” Dr. Lebastchi told Urology Times
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A total of 322 applicants completed the survey, representing a 69% response rate. The majority of the respondents were male (77%).
The survey asked applicants to rank in order of importance nine criteria by which they would evaluate training programs and 10 factors program directors would use in selecting residents.
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Interaction with residents ranked highly
Operative experience was ranked highest by the applicants (mean score, 2.66), followed by interaction with residents (mean score, 3.21) and relationship between faculty and residents (mean score, 3.28). Ranked next in descending order of importance were geographic location, resident lifestyle, institution prestige, faculty reputation, placement of graduates, and research opportunity.
Concerning the criteria reviewed by program directors in the applicant selection process, the survey results showed applicants thought United States Medical Licensing Examination scores were given the strongest consideration (mean score, 1.82), and urology reference letters were thought to be the second most important issue (mean score, 2.81).
In order of descending importance, the applicants thereafter thought that program directors looked at an individual’s interview day success, research productivity, completion of an away rotation at the institution, Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society status, urology rotation evaluation, clinical rotation evaluation, medical school reputation, and dean’s letter of recommendation.
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“These responses correspond nicely with published studies investigating factors that are important to urology residency program directors during the candidate selection process,” Dr. Lebastchi said.
The survey also sought to examine what area within urology drove applicants’ interest in the field. Almost 40% of the applicants identified urologic oncology as the reason why they were pursuing urology, while 16% identified general urology and almost the same proportion were motivated by interest in robotic surgery.
“We were a little bit surprised to see that oncology played such a dominant role, and yet it makes sense considering that it is probably the area within urology to which medical students are most exposed,” said Dr. Lebastchi.
“The same logic explains why renal transplantation, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, infertility and andrology, and trauma and reconstructive surgery were infrequently cited as the reason why applicants chose to participate in the urology match.”
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