Background: The 6-year Integrated Thoracic Surgery (I-6) residency programs have evolved over the past decade. Despite the rising number of programs, there are minimal data published about the criteria utilized by program directors to select candidates. We analyze the characteristics and qualities of successful matriculants using the American Association of Medical College's (AAMC) data reports and survey responses from program directors.
Methods: Using a survey administered through the RedCap service, program directors were asked to rate the importance of a variety of factors in their evaluations of candidates. The AAMC data reports from 2018 to 2020 provided information on the mean matriculant research productivity, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) step 1 scores, and step 2 clinical knowledge (CK) scores.
Results: Responses were received from 19 of 33 I-6 programs (58%). Program directors consistently rated interview performance as a very important factor in their evaluation of applicants. Matching into the specialty is becoming more competitive, with mean USMLE step 1, step 2 CK, and research productivity increasing over the past few years; matriculants had mean step 1 and step 2 CK scores of 247.3 and 254.2, respectively, in the 2020 match.
Conclusions: Thoracic surgery program directors place high value on applicant interview performance, letters of recommendation, and professionalism. Program directors agree that a forthcoming pass/fail USMLE step 1 score report will lead to closer scrutiny of other factors during the decision-making process and may cause future evaluation of applicants to be heavily reliant on letters of recommendation and medical school pedigree.
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