Integrated cardiothoracic surgery match: Trends among applicants compared with other surgical subspecialties

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Mar 22;S0022-5223(22)00341-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2021.11.112. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate trends, qualifications, race/ethnicity, and gender of applicants to integrated cardiothoracic (CT I-6) residency programs and compare them with other competitive surgical subspecialties.

Methods: Data were collected from the National Residency Matching Program, Electronic Residency Application Service, and Association of American Medical Colleges for thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurological surgery, otolaryngology (ENT), plastic surgery, and vascular surgery for 2010 t0 2020. Applicant gender, race/ethnicity, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) membership, United States Medical Licensing Examination scores, research productivity, and graduation from a top-40 medical school were analyzed.

Results: From 2010 to 2020, CT I-6 experienced growth in postgraduate year 1 positions (280.0%), total applicants (62.2%), and US senior applicants (59.2%). No growth in CT I-6 positions (38) or programs (29) occurred from 2016 to 2020. CT I-6 had the lowest match rates among total applicants (31.7%) and US seniors (41.0%) in 2020. CT I-6 had fewer female applicants compared with ENT (P < .001) and plastic surgery (P < .001), but more than orthopedic surgery (P < .001). Although most CT I-6 US applicants self-identified as White (75.0%), there were more Asian applicants compared with applicants for orthopedic surgery (P < .001), ENT (P < .001), plastic surgery (P < .001), and neurological surgery (P < .01). Matched applicants averaged the highest Step 2-Clinical Knowledge scores (255.1), AOA membership (48.5%), and graduation rates from top-40 medical schools (54.5%).

Conclusions: Despite tremendous growth in positions, CT I-6 has consistently been the most difficult surgical subspecialty to match. CT I-6 has recently attracted an increasingly diverse applicant pool. For the 2019 to 2020 National Residency Matching Program Match Cycle, successful applicants had the highest Step 2-Clinical Knowledge scores, AOA membership rates, and graduation rates from a top-40 medical school among all surgical subspecialties examined.

Keywords: AAMC; CT I-6; ERAS; NRMP; integrated thoracic surgery; match; residency.