There has been a relatively rapid increase in the number and size of “integrated” residency programs in plastic surgery (PS) over the past decade. The objective of this study is to evaluate trends of US senior applicants of PS compared with other surgical specialties from 2007 to 2016.
Data were obtained from “NRMP: Main Residency Match” and from “NRMP: Charting Outcomes in the Match.” Frequencies, percentages, and proportions were calculated for categorical variables. Odds ratios with 95% confidence interval were calculated to evaluate the relationship of Alpha Omega Alpha membership and match success.
The overall National Resident Matching Program match rate ranged from 93.1% to 95.1%, but rates were lower for surgical specialties, ranging from 74.7% to 86.6% in 2016. From 2008 to 2016, PS had a relatively high growth rate in the number of positions (65.2%) from 2008 to 2016. Matched PS and Otolaryngology applicants routinely had the highest mean United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge scores. Alpha Omega Alpha membership has a significant impact on successfully matching into a surgical specialty (P < 0.1). Matched applicants of surgical subspecialties (PS, Otolaryngology, orthopedics, and neurosurgery) had similar mean number of research, work, and volunteer experiences. However, PS and neurosurgery matched applicants had notably higher mean research productivity.
The rapid increase in the number of positions in PS residency training has not resulted in a decrease in caliber of matched applicants, even though match rates have dramatically increased. Currently, PS continues to attract and successfully match highly qualified applicants, but other surgical specialties have increasingly similar board scores and mean number of extracurricular experiences.