Background: There is significant demand for training in Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO) fellowships. Previous work has explored objective quantitative metrics of applicants that matriculated to CGSO fellowships; however, ambiguity remains concerning academic benchmarks and qualitative factors that impact matriculation.
Study design: A web-based survey was sent to each ACGME/SSO-approved CGSO fellowship training program. The survey was comprised of 24 questions in various forms, including dichotomous, ranked, and five-point Likert scale questions.
Results: Twenty-nine of 30 program directors (97%) submitted complete survey responses, representing 64 of the 65 CGSO fellowship positions (99%) currently offered. Programs received a mean of 73 applications per cycle (range 50-125) and granted a mean of 26 interviews (range 2-45). Seventy-two percent of programs had an established benchmark for ABSITE score percentile before offering a candidate an interview, with 62% of those programs setting that benchmark above the 50th percentile. The majority of programs also had established benchmarks for quantity of first author publications (mean: 2.3) and all publications of any authorship (mean: 4.4). An applicant's interview was ranked as the most important factor in determining inclusion on the program's rank list. The ability to work as part of a team, interpersonal interaction/communication abilities, and operative skills were rated as most important applicant characteristics, whereas an applicant's personal statement was ranked as least important.
Conclusions: After established academic benchmarks have been met, a multitude of factors influences ranking of applicants to the CGSO fellowship, most of which are assessed at the interview.