Objectives: To determine the criteria used by emergency medicine (EM) residency selection committees to select their residents, to determine whether there is a consensus among residency programs, to inform programs of areas of possible inconsistency, and to better educate applicants pursuing careers in EM.
Methods: A questionnaire consisting of 20 items based on the current Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) guidelines was mailed to the program directors of all 118 EM residencies in existence in February 1998. The program directors were instructed to rank each item on a five-point scale (5 = most important, 1 = least important) as to its importance in the selection of residents. Followup was done in the form of e-mail and facsimile.
Results: The overall response rate was 79.7%, with 94 of 118 programs responding. Items ranking as most important (4.0-5.0) in the selection process included: EM rotation grade (mean +/- SD = 4.79 +/- 0.50), interview (4.62 +/- 0.63), clinical grades (4.36 +/- 0.70), and recommendations (4.11 +/- 0.85). Moderate emphasis (3.0-4.0) was placed on: elective done at program director's institution (3.75 +/- 1.25), U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step II (3.34 +/- 0.93), interest expressed in program director's institution (3.30 +/- 1.19), USMLE step I (3.28 +/- 0.86), and awards/achievements (3.16 +/- 0.88). Less emphasis (<3.0) was placed on Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society (AOA) status (3.01 +/- 1.09), medical school attended (3.00 +/- 0.85), extracurricular activities (2.99 +/- 0.87), basic science grades (2.88 +/- 0.93), publications (2.87 +/- 0.99), and personal statement (2.75 +/- 0.96). Items most agreed upon by respondents (lowest standard deviation, SD) included EM rotation grade (SD 0.50), interview (SD 0.63), and clinical grades (SD 0.70). Of the 94 respondents, 37 (39.4%) replied they had minimum requirements for USMLE step I (195.11 +/- 13.10), while 30 (31.9%) replied they had minimum requirements for USMLE step II (194.27 +/- 14.96). Open-ended responses to "other" were related to personal characteristics, career/goals, and medical school performance.
Conclusions: The selection criteria with the highest mean values as reported by the program directors were EM rotation grade, interview, clinical grades, and recommendations. Criteria showing the most consistency (lowest SD) included EM rotation grade, interview, and clinical grades. Results are compared with those from previous multispecialty studies.