On March 30, 2022, the American Orthopaedic Association's Council of Orthopaedic Residency Directors announced its endorsement for a preference signaling program (PSP) for the 2022 to 2023 orthopaedic residency application cycle. The purpose of our study was to assess orthopaedic surgery residency program director (PD) perceptions of the PSP and analyze potential effects of the PSP on the residency application process.
A 19-question survey was distributed to 98 PDs (40.8% response rate). Contact information was obtained from a national database.
Most programs plan to participate in the PSP (87.5%). Preference signaling is highly regarded for residency selection, with PDs ranking its relative importance just below away rotation performance and personal knowledge of the applicant. Most PDs agreed that applicants will have increased chances of receiving interviews at programs they send a preference signal (65%). Most PDs also do not think that the PSP will help improve diversity (42.5%) and combat the overapplication phenomenon (67.5%). A majority think that an application cap limiting the total number of applications submitted should be initiated in future application cycles (85%).
Preference signaling will be one of the most important factors considered during orthopaedic residency selection. A signal will likely improve applicants' chance of receiving an interview. Thus, students should be selective about where they send their preference signals and invest time in creating strong, personal connections with a few, select programs to increase their success in the orthopaedic residency match.