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Current State of Colorectal Surgery Training: A Survey of Program Directors, Current and Recently Matched Colorectal Residents, and Recent Colorectal Graduates

Bailey, Matthew B. M.D.1; Miller, Peter E. M.D.1; Pawlak, Stephanie E. B.A.1; Thomas, Michael S. M.D.1; Beck, David E. M.D.1,2; Vargas, H. David M.D.1; Whitlow, Charles B. M.D.1; Margolin, David A. M.D.1,2

doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000000525
Original Contributions: Socioeconomic Issues

BACKGROUND: Colorectal residency has become one of the more competitive postgraduate training opportunities; however, little information is available to guide potential applicants in gauging their competitiveness.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify the current trends colorectal residency training and to identify what factors are considered most important in ranking a candidate highly. We hypothesized that there was a difference in what program directors, current and recently matched colorectal residents, and recent graduates consider most important in making a candidate competitive for a colorectal residency position.

DESIGN: Three 10-question anonymous surveys were sent to 59 program directors, 87 current and recently matched colorectal residents, and 119 recent graduates in March 2015.

SETTINGS: The study was conducted as an anonymous internet survey.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Current trends in applying for a colorectal residency, competitiveness of recent colorectal residents, factors considered most important in ranking a candidate highly, and what future colorectal surgeons can expect after finishing their training were measured.

RESULTS: The study had an overall response rate of 43%, with 28 (47%) of 59 program directors, 46 (53%) of 87 current and recently matched colorectal residents, and 39 (33%) of 119 recent graduates responding. The majority of program directors felt that a candidate’s performance during the interview process was the most important factor in making a candidate competitive, followed by contact from a colleague, letters of recommendation, American Board of Surgery In-Training Exam scores, and number of publications/presentations. The majority of current and recently matched colorectal residents felt that a recommendation/telephone call from a colleague was the most important factor, whereas the majority of recent graduates favored letters of recommendation as the most important factor in ranking a candidate highly.

LIMITATIONS: Limitations to the study include its small sample size, selection bias, responder bias, and misclassification bias.

CONCLUSIONS: There are differences in what program directors and current/recent residents consider most important in making an applicant competitive for colorectal residency.

1 Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, Louisiana

2 Department of Surgery, Ochsner Clinic School, University Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana

Financial Disclosure: None reported.

Podium presentation at the meeting of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Boston, MA, May 30 to June 3, 2015.

Correspondence: David A. Margolin, M.D., Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 1516 Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, LA 70121. E-mail: damargolin@ochsner.org

© 2016 The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons