Introduction: Applicants to chronic pain medicine fellowship programs often express confusion regarding the importance of various selection criteria. This study sought to elucidate program directors' considerations in applicant selection for fellowship interviews and ranking and to correlate these criteria with match statistics to provide a guide for prospective candidates.
Methods: An electronic survey was sent to all Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited chronic pain fellowship directors. The importance of various applicant characteristics were evaluated and compared with recent match data.
Results: Fifty-seven program directors completed the survey. The most important factors involved in applicant interview selection were perceived commitment to the specialty, letters of recommendation from pain faculty, scholarly activities, and leadership experiences. Although completion of a pain rotation was valued highly, experience with procedures was of relatively low importance. There was no preference if rotations were completed within the responders' department. Variability was noted when considering internal applicants or the applicant's geographic location. When citing main factors in ranking applicants, interpersonal skills, interview impression and applicant's fit within the institution were highly ranked by most responders.
Discussion: Assessment of an applicant's commitment to chronic pain is challenging. Most responders prioritize the applicant's commitment to chronic pain as a specialty, scholarly activity, participation in chronic pain rotations, pain-related conferences and letters of recommendation from pain faculty. Chronic pain medicine fellowship candidates should establish a progressive pattern of genuine interest and involvement within the specialty during residency training to optimize their fellowship match potential.
Keywords: analgesia; chronic pain; education; internship and residency; pain medicine.
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