How Much Are We Spending on Resident Selection?

J Surg Educ. 2018 Nov;75(6):e85-e90. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2018.10.001. Epub 2018 Oct 23.


Introduction: Rigorous selection processes are required to identify applicants who will be the best fit for training programs. This study provides a national snapshot of selection practices used within surgical residency programs and their associated financial costs.

Methods: A 17-item online survey was distributed to General Surgery Program Directors (PDs) via the Association of Program Directors in Surgery listserv. The survey examined program characteristics, applicant pool size, and interview day components of the prior match year. PD/coordinator teams also provided hard costs associated with interview day components, as well as time and effort estimations among program faculty, residents, and staff during the past interview season. Effort estimates were translated to dollar values via national salary data reports of hourly wages for faculty and annual wages for administrative staff and residents. Descriptive statistics and one-way analysis of variance via SPSS 24.0 were used to examine the data.

Results: One-hundred and twenty-eight responses were received, reflecting 48% (128/267) of programs in the 2017 match. Average hard costs (±SD) were $8053 ± 6467, covering food ($3753 ± 4042), social sessions ($3175 ± 3749), supplies ($329 ± 866), hotel ($328 ± 1381), room reservations ($120 ± 658), shuttle fees ($84 ± 403), tour guide fees ($50 ± 379), and other ($146 + 824). Costs for personnel effort was $77,601 ± 62,413 for faculty, $12,393 ± 33,518 for residents, $6447 ± 11,107 for coordinators, and $1294 ± 1943 for staff. Total average cost associated with the interview process (hard + effort) was $100,438±87,919, with university-based programs ($128,686 ± 101,565) spending significantly more than independent-university affiliated ($61,162 ± 33,945), independent ($74,793 ± 73,261), and military ($62,495 ± 38,532) programs (p < 0.01). Average cost for each residency program per position being filled was $18,648 ± 13,383, and average cost per interviewee was $1221 ± 894.

Conclusions: In an era of declining resources for medical education, PDs must understand the time and effort associated with resident selection. These data reveal that residency programs are spending significant time and resources on the current selection process. Program leaders can use these data to assess their current selection strategies, review faculty and staff time allocation, and identify opportunities for making the process more efficient.

Keywords: Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; Systems-Based Practice.

MeSH terms

  • General Surgery / education*
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Selection / economics*
  • Self Report